Friday, June 01, 2012

Campbell to Bennett: ‘Are you secretary of state or a political operative?’

Bennett backpedals on promise to voters, Campbell renews resignation call

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is backpedaling on a promise he made to Arizona voters. He recently refused to answer constituent requests to verify Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s birth certificate, despite promising to do so if voters asked.

Bennett is co-chair of Romney’s Arizona campaign and appears to be struggling to fulfill both his campaign obligations and his responsibility as the state’s top election officer, according to House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14).

“Last month Mr. Bennett said that he was looking into the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate because a few constituents asked him to do so,” Campbell said. “I know that several constituents made similar requests for him to verify Romney’s birth certificate. Now he’s refusing because the requests didn’t come from law enforcement officials like Tea Party ‘birther’ Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He broke his promise to voters and continues to pander to a fringe movement.”

Campbell renewed his call for Bennett to resign either as secretary of state or as a political operative for the Romney campaign. He said he is still waiting for a response to a letter he sent Bennett in May asking him to step down from one of the positions.

“Mr. Bennett can’t have it both ways,” Campbell said. “He can’t be Arizona’s highest ranking election officer and a political operative for a presidential candidate. He needs to resign from one position or the other.”

Only two years ago, when he was running for secretary of state, 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. Now he is openly campaigning for Romney. Campbell insists that Arizonans deserve better from their elected officials.

“He can’t keep his story straight. What are we supposed to believe? He is making this up as he goes along and that’s not leadership,” Campbell said. “I’ve not gotten a response to my letter. He needs to decide whether he wants to be a public servant or a political operative. It is absolutely inappropriate for him to do both.”

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