Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Campbell to Bennett: ‘Resign as Romney campaign co-chair or as secretary of state’
House minority leader calls for an end to Bennett’s hypocrisy and abuse of power
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (D-14), called for Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett either to resign as the co-chair of Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign or resign as secretary of state.
“It is absolutely inappropriate for the state’s highest ranking election officer to publicly support one presidential candidate when he tried to keep the other off the ballot,” Campbell said.
Campbell sent Bennett a letter asking him to resign.
“Failure to step aside from the political campaign will keep a dark cloud over Arizona’s elections this fall. If you fail to resign from Mr. Romney’s campaign, then I respectfully call on you to resign your position as secretary of state,” Campbell wrote in the letter.
Campbell also asked Bennett to work with him to make the secretary of state position non-partisan.
“(I)f you were to resign as secretary of state I extend an offer to you to join me in working to change the position to a non-partisan office charged solely with administering elections and protecting the integrity of the process. It would be a great step forward for Arizona,” Campbell wrote.
Bennett, who is openly campaigning for Romney, admitted that he considered keeping President Barack Obama’s name off the Arizona ballot because of pressure from the Tea Party “birther” movement. Bennett said constituent requests prompted him to ask Hawaiian officials to verify the information in Obama’s birth certificate. Hawaiian officials responded to his request and verified the validity of the birth certificate.
Only two years ago, when he was running for office, Bennett said that he did not think it was proper for the state’s head election officer to publicly back any candidate or ballot measure because the person in that position would have to conduct the election.
“This actually goes beyond political pandering to a discredited fringe group,” Campbell said. “Ken Bennett is abusing the power of his office to give a political advantage to his preferred presidential candidate. He’s completely contradicting his initial stance. It’s both hypocritical and wrong. If this is the type of leadership Mr. Bennett is offering, he is underestimating the people of Arizona.”
See a copy of the letter below.
Dear Mr. Bennett,
As the chief elections officer in this state, you are specifically tasked with administering elections throughout Arizona. When you were a candidate for secretary of state in 2010, you publicly stated that you would not endorse any candidate or ballot measure because doing so would cast a pall over the validity of the election and raise questions in the voters’ minds about the integrity of the election results. Your pledge was a commitment to the voters of this state. I was disappointed to learn that you have gone back on your word by taking the position of co-chair in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Your assumption of a prominent and active role in Mr. Romney’s campaign was made even more troubling when you announced last week that you were bowing to pressure from the Tea Party extremists who operate under the delusion that President Obama was not born in this country. By demanding that the State of Hawaii provide additional verification of the president’s birth certificate and asserting that the president’s name may not appear on the Arizona ballot without such additional information from Hawaii, you are jeopardizing the integrity of the election process. By actively supporting Mr. Romney’s campaign while at the same time taking steps to keep his opponent off the ballot, you are abusing the power of your office and undermining the trust of the voters.
Accordingly, I ask that you immediately resign from the position of co-chair of Mr. Romney’s campaign. It is in the best interest of Arizona to do so. Failure to step aside from the political campaign will keep a dark cloud over Arizona’s elections this fall.
If you fail to resign from Mr. Romney’s campaign, then I respectfully call on you to resign your position as secretary of state. Your resignation will allow you to campaign for Mr. Romney and any other political campaigns while protecting the electoral process in this state and maintaining the voters’ confidence in the system. Additionally, if you were to resign as secretary of state, I extend an offer to you to join me in working to change the position to a non-partisan office charged solely with administering elections and protecting the integrity of the process. It would be a great step forward for Arizona.
House Minority Leader