Governor Doug Ducey terminated all state contracts with lobbyists Wednesday in an executive order that he said will curb special interests at the Capitol.
The order applies to all state agencies, regulatory boards and commissions. It does not affect other state agencies run by other elected officials.
According to the Governor's Office, state spending on lobbyists was approximately $1 million since Fiscal Year 2015. However, Ducey's staff estimated the number could be higher since several agencies did not respond to internal surveys about lobbyist spending.
“My concern is for the special interest long forgotten at the Capitol – the hardworking taxpayer,” said Governor Ducey in a prepared written statement. “For too long, too many government entities have used public dollars to protect their own interests at the expense of taxpayers, small business people and regular citizens who can’t afford their own lobbyist. Under this old system of cronyism, lobbyists get richer, special interests thrive and citizens foot the bill.”
A spokesman told ABC15 that Wednesday's order was based partially on a health board reform bill that was "watered down" last legislative session.
In HB2501, Ducey sought to consolidate some health boards and place the executive directors under the direction and control of the Arizona Department of Health Services. The bill faced resistance from some lawmakers and was withdrawn.
Last month, Ducey also called state health boards a "dark corner of state government." But somewhat ironically, the Governor made the statement in a veto letter for a health board reform bill.
Ducey vetoed SB1443, which would have improved transparency and made other reforms to Arizona's nearly two dozen health boards.
Some of those proposed reforms were based on an ongoing ABC15 investigation into Arizona's Dental Board.
In his letter, Ducey said the reforms weren't strong enough.
A spokesman said Ducey will likely issue other orders dealing more specifically with health board issues later this year.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.