PRESCOTT, AZ - The Yavapai County Republican Committee voted Saturday to censure Gov. Jan Brewer and a handful of Arizona legislators over their support of Medicaid expansion following a heated debate.
The Prescott Daily Courier reports that the group's "Resolution to Censure," passed by a narrow 59-50 margin. Around 200 precinct committee members were eligible to vote on the matter, officials said.
Yavapai County Republican Chairman Jim Dutton said the resolution was a way for political organizations to express strong disapproval of elected officials' actions.
Among those named in the resolution were Republican Sen. Steve Pierce of Prescott and Rep. Heather Carter of Cave Creek.
The expansion makes about 300,000 more people eligible for Medicaid in the state. As part of that expansion, hospitals will pay the state's $250 million annual match to get $1.6 billion a year from the federal government.
The resolution will be forwarded to the individuals it names.
Pierce said he rarely heard from people opposed to Medicaid expansion.
"It's an honor to be down there serving you. It's an honor that, five years ago, you all put your faith in me to do what you thought I would do right and what I feel I have done right," Pierce told the crowd. "I put out a newsletter and I thought I was putting it out in the right way with the right information, with about eight letters regarding Medicaid. I didn't really hear anyone complaining or writing me; nobody called my office. It's a shame we have gotten to this instead of letting me hear about it before, but it is what it is."
When he made the decision to support Medicaid expansion, Pierce said he had the support of every elected official in Yavapai County.
"The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported this, and I didn't hear from the people that didn't," Pierce said.
House of Representatives Speaker Andy Tobin of Paulden questioned protocol with many of the decisions made during the meeting. He asked those in attendance to support Pierce and other elected officials.
"We haven't even censured Obama yet. As a committee, we haven't even censured this president who hates our nation," Tobin said.
Tom Steele, a member of the GOP group, said he rejoined the Republican Party five years ago. He said the censure represents Republican values.
"I realized we had to do more than we were doing before. Part of that is to clean up the stalls in our own barn. That means removing the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and those that are seeking to elevate themselves," Steele said.