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Judge Rules Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Violated Law to Circumvent Senate Confirmations

Hobbs argues the senate held up her nominees in a display of 'partisan obstructionism'

Judge Rules Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Violated Law to Circumvent Senate Confirmations

An Arizona judge has ruled that Gov. Katie Hobbs violated the law by naming individuals as “deputy directors” of 13 agencies after the state senate would not confirm her picks through the legally-prescribed confirmation process.

In a 17-page decision, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney said Hobbs “has improperly, unilaterally appointed de facto directors for these 13 agencies, despite the actual job title she has assigned to each of them.”

After failing to get her picks through senate confirmation, Hobbs simply appointed “Executive Deputy Directors (EDDs)” with all the powers of a director, but without going through the formal nomination and confirmation process, effectively orchestrating an end-run around the process mandated by state law.

Under A.R.S. § 38-211, governors are required to nominate picks for agency heads, who must be confirmed by the senate. Agency directors can only serve for one year without confirmation, but Hobbs believes they can serve longer if they are titled deputy directors.

In September 2023, after the state senate declined to confirm a nominee accused of plagarism, Hobbs sent a letter to Senate President Warren Petersen saying the senate’s committee to vet nominees created “a political circus” that was “holding agencies that serve the people of Arizona hostage,” while “wasting taxpayer dollars and all of our time.”

Hobbs advised that she would withdraw all 13 pending director nominations, citing “partisan obstructionism,” and pursue “other lawful avenues” of having her choices for agency heads step into those roles.

However, as Blaney explained in his June 5 decision, the path she chose was not lawful.

“The governor took a series of actions that, when viewed in isolation, arguably complied with certain applicable statutes, but took those actions for an improper purpose, culminating in an improper result — one that violates Arizona law,” Blaney wrote.

Petersen blasted Hobbs for attempting to sidestep the legislature’s authority in confirming nominations for agency positions.

"We're witnessing a very disturbing trend of our Governor breaking our laws," Petersen said in a statement.

“Contrary to what she may believe, she is not above the law, and the Legislature is fulfilling its role in serving as the constitutional check and balance against her abuse of power,” he added. “This case is a prime example of Democrats weaponizing Arizona's government for their own political gain and to implement their radical left agenda.”

Petersen further stated, “I'm disappointed with our attorney general once again supporting another unlawful order by the Governor, but I'm very pleased with the court's rightful interpretation of our statutes. I look forward to the Governor's cooperation so that we may reinstate sanity after this chaotic period she created for the entire state of Arizona."

Blaney did not order Hobbs to submit new nominations yet, instead saying he would schedule an evidentiary hearing or oral argument in late July or early August in order to give Hobbs and the senate time to try and “reach a mutually agreeable resolution of this dispute.”

Christian Slater, a spokesman for the governor, said after the ruling, “Gov. Hobbs stands ready to work with anybody in the Senate who is serious about putting the political games aside and delivering for everyday Arizonans,” adding that she “remains open to a fair and timely process for confirmation of nominees.''

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