Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs pulls remaining director nominations, cites ‘partisan obstructionism’

Sep 25, 2023, 2:55 PM

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs announced Monday she withdrew the remaining director nominees from the Senate confirmation process, saying partisanship had forced her to find other means to fill the roles.

Hobbs sent Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen a letter expressing her frustration with the process and Republican Rep. Jake Hoffman, the chairman of the Committee on Director Nominations.

“It is clear that this committee has taken upon itself to impose some other, impossible standard — or perhaps no standard at all beyond the whims of Sen. Hoffman — for evaluating nominees,” Hobbs, a Democrat, said in the letter.

“This is not the lawful role of the Senate and is not a process in which I or my nominees will continue to participate.”

Petersen fired back, calling Hobbs’ decision unlawful.

“This move by the Executive Branch showcases another prime example of an elected official who believes they’re above the law and will go to extreme measures to bypass the requirements of the law when they don’t get their way,” Petersen said in a statement.

“The law is very specific on who is to run our state agencies. Without directors fulfilling these obligations, the legality of every decision made by these state agencies is dubious and litigation against the state would surely prevail.”

How many Arizona agency directors still need confirmation?

Directors for 13 state agencies still need to be confirmed, a process Hobbs said would extend into her second term at the current rate.

She accused Hoffman and the Nominations Committee of slow playing the process by approving nominees who never get brought to the Senate for a vote and using nominations for political posturing.

Hobbs added that when the Senate asked her to speed up the process of nominating directors in January, she did so within days.

“If you have concerns about individuals’ qualifications, simply say so,” Hobbs said. “But it is clear the Senate’s vetting process is not functioning as intended by law or tradition.”

Here are the directors who still need to be confirmed:

• Elizabeth Thorson, Arizona Department of Administration
• Angie Rodgers, Arizona Department of Economic Security
• Karen Peters, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
• Carmen Heredia, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System
• David Lujan, Arizona Department of Child Safety
• Jackie Johnson, Arizona Department of Gaming
• Joan Serviss, Arizona Department of Housing
• Barbara Richardson, Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions
• Lt. Col Dana Allmond, Arizona Department of Veterans Services
• Alec Esteban Thomson, Arizona State Lottery
• Cynthia Zwick, Residential Utility Consumer Office
• Lisa Urias, Arizona Office of Tourism
• Robyn Sahid, Arizona State Land Department

Can Hobbs legally find a different way to confirm the directors?

Hobbs said she would “pursue other lawful avenues” but didn’t specify what that would look like.

State law requires Senate confirmation for directors, who can only lawfully serve for one year without confirmation.

Hobbs said there was a framework to allow for the Senate confirmation process to resume.

“Should the Senate return to the regular order of confirming nominees as contemplated by law, or if I am able to find qualified candidates who might satisfy the shifting, amorphous and partisan standard for confirmation that the Senate appears to have adopted, I will resume sending nominations for the Senate’s review,” Hobbs said.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs pulls remaining director nominations, cites ‘partisan obstructionism’