Governor can fire more state board appointees

Posted at 11:20 AM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 14:20:24-04

The governor can remove more appointed members of the state's boards and commissions under a bill signed into law in April with no opposition.

No-term appointees serve at the governor's pleasure. The amendment expands that rule to members of government entities with fixed terms, like on the Arizona Board of Regents as well as the State Board of Education, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said issues like those with the board of education illustrated the need for this change.

"Ultimately the governor is held to account for the conduct and performance of these boards and commissions, so it stands to reason that he has the ability to get rid of bad apples," Scarpinato said.

He noted that so far, no board or commission members have been removed before their terms expired.

"We have not been in any rush to make changes," he said.

Joe Kanefield was chief counsel to former Gov. Jan Brewer. He said the governor previously could not remove appointees without cause.

"That's a significant change in the removal process for board and commission members," Kanefield said.

Lobbyist Chris Herstam is a former Arizona Board of Regents president who questioned how the amendment passed without boards and commissions protesting.

"Fixed terms for board members - such as regents or appellate court commissioners - provide protection from potential political intimidation and often contribute to sound policymaking," he said.

Mike Luburdi is the governor's general counsel, and says the move put judicial precedent into law. He pointed to the 1969 Arizona Supreme Court ruling in Ahearn v. Bailey that said, "The governor is charged with the duty of taking care that the laws are faithfully executed. He must, therefore, have the power to select subordinates and to remove them if they are unfaithful."

Boards and commissions with removal processes stipulated by law will not be affected.

The bill was introduced in January and added a member to the Regulatory Review Council.