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October 18, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

John Dougherty

  |   Video
  • John Dougherty is reporting, through social media, that reliable sources say that Governor Jan Brewer is seriously ill and might not be able to complete a second term in office. Dougherty talks about these claims.
  • John Dougherty - Investigative Reporter
Category: Elections

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Ted Simons: Governor Jan Brewer's health is being called into question by John Dougherty, an investigative reporter who tried, unsuccessfully, to win this year's democratic nomination for U.S. senate. Dougherty is reporting, through social media, that reliable sources say the governor is seriously ill and might not be able to complete a second term in office. That's something the governor denies. Dougherty also quotes an unnamed source close to the governor's office as saying Brewer recently had a biopsy to test for thyroid cancer. Here to talk about these claims is John Dougherty. Good to see you.

John Dougherty: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: What did you hear about the governor having a possible illness?

John Dougherty: I heard over a span of about three weeks, from several very reliable sources I've known for a considerable period of time that she was ill and there was a possibility she would not be able to finish the next term and that the next -- there could be another succession where the secretary of state became the next governor. The first time I heard it, I stuck it in my file cabinet and said, ok, because I hear a lot of things as a journalists. A ton of things. But then it came back again from a different angle and made me think it's serious nature and at a crucial time that the best way to do this is just to float it out there, that's what I did. I put it out on a facebook tweet with the belief that I felt good it needed to be aired out publicly.

Ted Simons: You answered a couple of questions in the first statement. It was more than one source?

John Dougherty: Yes.

Ted Simons: And at more than one time?

John Dougherty: Yes.

Ted Simons: And when the first source came in, you put it in your file cabinet; the second source, how long did you wait?

John Dougherty: About 48 hours.

Ted Simons: Can you tell us who these sources are?

John Dougherty: No, I cannot disclose my sources. I talked to one of them as early as this morning and encouraged that source to think about it and I'd say -- it would be great if you would step forward. That person needs to make the evaluation how this could impact their life. I'm certainly not going to jeopardize anyone's personal privacy on that issue and as a journalist, you have to protect your sources. This is the type of story where you almost have to have sources, at least in the initial source stages for it to develop, it's an unusual but not one that's out of bounds in journalism.

Ted Simons: Do you think other members of the media knew about these rumors when you first learned about them?

John Dougherty: I don't know. I can't say that. I don't -- I do not know. But I know after the first time I reported it and before I reported it the second time, when I narrowed it down to a thyroid biopsy, other members of the press knew about it.

Ted Simons: Why did you go with this story?

John Dougherty: I believe the public has a right to know if the chief executive officer is possibly suffering from a serious ill. The public has a right to know. It's incumbent on the governor's office to be straight with us, which they've not done. They've not answered simple questions and instead diverted the public's attention.

Ted Simons: If it's that important, why not a blowout piece in a magazine or local broadcast outlet, as opposed to facebook post?

John Dougherty: I'm not affiliated to any of that at this time. To me, the most important thing was to get the information out there and see how it developed and what's developed is astounding as you've reported and many members of the public know. The governor's office reported with a non sequitur. And blasting Terry Goddard and accusing him of being gay from a rumor of 20 years and trashed me saying I'm a person with no credibility and governor comes out and says I'm in perfect health and then we find a photograph where there's a Band-Aid where a biopsy would be performed.

Ted Simons: They're questioning your motives. Ran as a democrat for the United States senate and say you're working with the Goddard campaign and/or Democrats. Are you?

John Dougherty: No, I am not working with any campaign. I did run as a democrat for the United States senate and that's a legitimate criticism. I completely understand that. I wish the situation was reported elsewhere, but I'm the one who has the information and I've released it and it's time for the media to focus not on the person who released the information. Focus on the governor. Ask her: Do you have thyroid cancer. By now, that test taken on the sixth or seventh of October, those results are back. Answer that simple question.

Ted Simons: The governor has been asked and amongst her responses, my health is fine, do you believe her?

John Dougherty: I don't accept that as being an answer to the question: Did you have a thyroid biopsy? Her credibility's been damaged. She told everyone in the country we had beheadings going on in the desert here and stood by that statement. Her handlers, Chuck Coughlin and Doug Cole. This was an important element in the matrix of decision making that I underwent. Chuck Coughlin and Doug Cole, were the apologists for years. I worked with them directly in the early 1990s and they're doing the same thing now, refuse to answer the questions and trash the messenger and what happened. In 1997, Symington resigned as governor. They are employing the same tactics now as they did then.

Ted Simons: When they say these are completely unsubstantiated and malicious rumors and just pure anonymous speculation, I think was a quote, you say --

John Dougherty: The information I had is coming directly out of the ninth floor. The information I have has been corroborated by a photograph that shows the bandage on her throat. Look, if Barack Obama did a press conference with a bandage on his throat, do you think the press corps in Washington would not be going, Mr. President, what's with the bandage? But Brewer goes, what bandage. It's not holding together.

Ted Simons: There are some who say, why should we need to know about the governor's health? To a certain point -- she said her health is fine and she got a checkup beforehand, she said, and the original quote was, be able to complete a four-year term. Why isn't that good enough?

John Dougherty: If we have an indication that an elected official may have cancer, we need to know. Senator John McCain has had cancer for years. Melanoma, which can be a deadly disease. He presented his medical records and we went on with it. In this case, we don't know, they're not disclosing or answering questions. That's troubling. Between the first time I raised the issue apt time I said it was a thyroid biopsy, the governor said in numerous interviews, my health is perfect. It doesn't add up. If she's having tests for cancer, how can it be perfect? The public needs to know. The thyroid biopsy comes at the end of a long series of tests.

Ted Simons: The sources that say it was a thyroid biopsy, same sources for the original story?

John Dougherty: Actually, it's a third source.

Ted Simons: A different source.

John Dougherty: Yeah.

Ted Simons: Last question, you mentioned that the focus seems to be a lot on you as opposed to the governor. Looking back, from everything we've talked about tonight, would you have handled this any differently?

John Dougherty: No, I think this is the way to handle it. I'm not affiliated with any type of news media and the first release was done on a social media site and the reaction from the governor's office was completely over the top and they've continued to refuse to answer the questions. That's where the focus needs to be. The governor needs to sit in this seat with you and have a nice discussion about what's going on and just tell us. That's the biggest issue. Tell us the truth. What's going on with your health? To me, I hope she's ok. I don't have any ill will against her or anybody in this game. But the most important issue is her credibility. She said her health is perfect but there's evidence that something else is going on and enough time has passed to have the thyroid biopsy results. We need to know those results.

Ted Simons: Thanks for being here.

Legislating at the Ballot Box

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  • Of the ten propositions on November’s general election ballot, nine were referred by the state legislature (two of which seek to repeal past voter-approved measures). Join us as we examine how Arizona’s initiative and referendum processes are being used by voters and lawmakers, and whether or not they’re being used appropriately. Arizona Republic editorial columnist Bob Robb and ASU law professor Paul Bender share their insights and expertise.
  • Bob Robb - Arizona Republic
  • Paul Bender - ASU Law Professor
Category: Elections

View Transcript

Ted Simons: The 10 propositions November ballot, only one is a voter initiative. The others were referred by state lawmakers. Tonight we'll take a look at the process for placing a measure on the ballot and whether or not it's being used as originally intended.a brief look at initiative and referendum powers.

David Majure: In Arizona, legislators aren't the only ones who can pass laws. The state constitution gives lawmaking ability to the people, through the power of initiative and referendum. Signatures from 10% of qualified voters are enough to send a initiative to the ballot. It takes 15% for a constitutional amendment and 5% of voters can refer most new laws to the ballot before they go into effect. At the end of a legislative section, voters have 90 days to exercise this power of referendum. In the past, the legislature could easily change or repeal any voter-approved laws. That changed in 1998 with the passage of prop 105, known as the voter protection act. Now lawmakers cannot appeal voter-approved measures. They can amend them but only if the amendment furthers the purpose of the measure and only if three-fourths of legislature votes to do so.

Ted Simons: Is the initiative and referendum process being misused? Here to share their views are ASU law professor Paul Bender and Bob Robb, an editorial columnist for the "The Arizona Republic." Thanks for joining us.

Bob Robb: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: All but one prop referred by the legislature, is that unusual?

Paul Bender: I think it's unusual. Bob would know better than I do whether this has happened before. But it's very unusual and it really strikes you as not what the constitution had in mind. Let me read you the provision that's involved. It says that the legislative authority of the state shall be vested in the legislature consisting of the senate and House of Representatives but the people reserve the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and enact or reject such laws at the polls independently of the legislature. And also reserve for their own option, the power to approve or oppose -- apart -- what you have is something meant to be used by the people, primarily and when you look at the ballot and see nine tenth is on there because the legislature put it on there, I don't think that's the way it was intended.

Ted Simons: What do you think? The provisions he just read off -- Do you think those are --

Bob Robb: There's another provision of the legislative authority in the constitution that says nothing in the section shall be construed to limit the power of the legislature to refer any measure. So certainly, the legislature was intended to have the referendum authority. This is unusual. In 2008, there were six citizen measures on the ballot. Only one from the legislature. You go back to 2006 when we had the mother of all ballot propositions ballots, there were 10 citizen initiated measures, eight from the legislature. The problem is that to amend the Arizona constitution and many of these are constitutional amendments, require a vote of the people. So if the legislature decided it believes the constitution needs to be amended for any particular reason, that's their only option. Then the voter protection act which was referenced in the package, has taken ordinary statutes and given them that same status as a constitutional process vision. Because as a practical matter, they cannot be amended by the legislature without approval of the voters. So there's nothing that is on the ballot that the legislature would have had the authority to enact on its own initiative. This is the only way they can be accomplished.

Paul Bender: The constitutional amendments, what is it -- six or seven on the ballot.

Bob Robb: There's seven.

Paul Bender: And two referendums and one initiative, the legislature could have enacted those as statutes. The constitutional amendments, they don't have to put them on the ballot as constitutional amendments. Let's take the healthcare one, for example. The legislature could have made that an statute and enacted it.

Bob Robb: But the purpose of the people who want that proposition, is to preclude -- they wanted to give the right to purchase your own healthcare and not to be mandated by the government to do anything, in the declaration of rights in the constitution precisely so future legislatures or the people by statutory initiative couldn't change it. One could argue whether any of these things -- hunting and fishing, I'm not sure deserves constitutional protection, but those proposing it want it precisely to give it a protection against legislative or statutory initiatives.

Paul Bender: And it's interesting, because when the legislature does that and lets the people decide whether to have the hunting and fishing things, they're stopping themselves from changing it whereas, they've been complaining that the people passed a initiative and it stops us from changing it and here they put seven things on the ballot that stop themselves. Why are they doing it? That strikes me as not doing their job correctly.

Bob Robb: This is one of the things that's different from this -- about this set of propositions, most of these have well-organized and well-financed interest groups behind them. And in other years would have gone to the streets and qualified these measures by initiative. That -- that's true of the healthcare referendum which at one point in time was on the ballot in the previous years.

Paul Bender: And lost, right?

Bob Robb: Yes. And racial preferences, the hunting and fishing one is backed by the NRA. Plenty of money and the union ballot.

Paul Bender: Why did they do it?

Bob Robb: If the legislature agrees with the interest group, the interest groups saves $250,000, by not having to pay petition circulators.

Ted Simons: Are you see -- are we seeing more of this though. Obviously, this is something unusual. Where almost everything seems like it's going to be up or down as far as the constitutional amendment with constitutional protections involved?

Bob Robb: I think that's been a trend for some time. Both sides -- except with the voter protection act you don't have to amend the constitution to get the protection of being a constitutional amendment.

Paul Bender: And the high point -- or low point, if you like -- of things going into the constitution that in no on the other hand world would be. We have -- ordinary world, we have a sales tax, they put it on the ballot, there's a couple of fundamental problems here. I think, and the main one is that it's too easy to amend the Arizona constitution and that's why we have a constitution that's so long and complicated and fairly often we put things on there without thinking about them. Bob and I have a complete difference of opinion with regard to the lieutenant governor, one of the petitions. When you do that through constitutional amendment, it's not as flexible or intelligent as when you do it by legislation. Legislation, you can amend on the floor and debate. When you put a constitutional amendment or initiative on the ballot, no one can amend it and we have, for example, we have a disagreement about something, in the legislature, it could be cleared up.

Ted Simons: Is that a failure of the legislature in terms of doing its job?

Bob Robb: I don't think so. Because again, nothing which is on the ballot that was referred by the legislature could the legislature have done on its own initiative. If you're going to provide constitutional protection to some of these rights, regardless of whether one thinks it's good or bad idea, that's the way do it. The legislature couldn't redirect funding from the land conservation fund or first things first on its own initiative because they're voter-protected.

Paul Bender: But the legislature could do it as a statute. Not a constitutional amendment and what I'm suggesting is we ought to, if we're going to revise these provisions, and they probably need some provision because they really don’t work very well, the voter protection act is too wooden and the tax things. It stops the legislature from do dealing with a crisis, it ought to be compared with the federal constitution, in order to amend the federal constitution, you have to get both houses of legislature and more than a simple majority and then three-quarters of the state legislatures to do it and as a result, we have 27 amendments and we have a federal constitution that's remained stable and is a source of fundamental things. Our constitution has a lot of things that nobody would think is fundamental. And I would suggest -- and this is a serious suggestion -- there ought to be two ways to get a constitutional amendment passed. If you need to do it right away without discussion or debate, you ought to need some supermajority. Two-thirds, 60%, more than a simple majority. So if you put in on the ballet and it gets, say it gets two-thirds, then it becomes -- if you don't do that, it should be passed twice. Take hunting and fishing, do we need to do that right away? I don't think so.

Ted Simons: What do you think of those ideas?

Bob Robb: I agree with Paul that our state constitution is a junkyard. However, it's been a junkyard.

Paul Bender: I didn't use those words. [Laughter]

Bob Robb: You can blame me for that. The constitutional law professor did not call the constitution a junkyard. But the founders didn't trust the executive or legislative branch authority so you would be in essence starting from scratch to pare that down to true declarations of fundamental rights and fundamental methodology of what government is to do.

Paul Bender: I don't think you can pare it down like that. You have to do it amendment by amendment. But since this seems to be snowballing, some brakes ought to be put on this. The lieutenant governor thing, for example, there are a lot of ins and outs and pluses and minuses. We lived with no lieutenant governor for 100 years. We can do it for another two years. Put it on the ballot and see if a majority of people like it. If they do, put it on the ballot two years from now and in between, talk about it and think about whether it's a good idea and maybe you want to change it to make it better. Now you've made it something that everybody agrees with, it will pass by two-thirds vote and go into effect right away.

Ted Simons: A couple of hurdles, not a bad thing?

Bob Robb: You're freezing what I think is a junkyard of a constitution in place. Because virtually nothing gets two-thirds approval by the electorate. If you were to say, does the sun rise in the east and set in the west, depending on who made that assertion, my guess is 40% of the electorate would disagree.

Paul Bender: Suppose I made it 60%? [Laughter] My point, you can do it if you do it twice. 60% of 6 to do is right away. It ought to take a couple of years so that people can discuss what's going on in our fundamental documents.

Ted Simons: Can changes be made? What do you think?

Bob Robb: I agree with Paul's assessment that the state constitution is -- covers a lot of things that should not be in the constitution and I agree there's an increasing tendency to seek constitutional status for things better left in statute. There are some states that you have to pass the constitutional amendment twice. I just think given what a direct democracy laboratory and pioneer Arizonans think themselves of, that amendment, which would have to be an amendment to the state constitution – wouldn’t pass once, much less twice.

Paul Bender: That would be passed by a simple majority, ironically. I think the concept of this at the beginning was real direct democracy. And it's written in there, the language I read. But we've outgrown that in a way. I would like to retain that, but do it in a way that's more responsible and do the people understand them, they pass them and say, oh, my god, what did we do? When Evan was elected governor by a minority, they immediately passed a constitutional amendment that said you can’t do that anymore you got to by majority -- was it the next gubernatorial election, it was a tie between Goddard and Symington and we had to have a run adjust election. You react too quickly. Take your time and if they're fundamental enough to be in the constitution, think about them for a while.

Ted Simons: Last word on this. If not changing, do you see what's happening right now, an abuse of the process?

Bob Robb: I believe there's one item on the ballot, the secret elections for unionization, that is an abuse of the ballot process, because it's a meaningless gesture. Federal law will preempt it. Ordinarily not but it's true that over the course of time what was intended to be a reserve power for the people have become a tool of the legislature and organized interest groups and doesn't serve the purpose it was intended and if we wanted to serve that purpose, we need to look at reforms.

Ted Simons: Great discussion, thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.