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Appropriations Committee votes to strip Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of roles

Electoral College Arizona Katie Hobbs
Posted at 9:57 AM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 17:05:53-04

PHOENIX — Political score-settling is not supposed to be part of the budgeting process, but you will have a hard time convincing Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee of that.

On Tuesday morning, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee stripped Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of her ability to defend election lawsuits. It gave the power exclusively to the Attorney General.

Later in the day, the state's Senate Appropriations Committee passed the same changes. Now these proposed changes are part of the full budget proposal that will be voted on later this week.

“We are meddling with the constitution,” State Representative Randy Friese, (D) Tucson, said. Friese and other Democrats see the move as a response to Secretary of State Hobbs' use of outside counsel to defend Arizona voters from lawsuits filed by the State Republican Party and others challenging Arizona’s election results. Hobbs also did not support a decision by the Attorney General to pursue a ballot harvesting case in federal court. Earlier this year Attorney General Mark Brnovich argued against the practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Court is expected to decide the case this summer.

The provision restricting the Secretary of State ends on January 2, 2023, when a new Secretary of State is in office.

RELATED: Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sends letter threatening to de-certify election equipment after audit

The Appropriations Committee also took away Hobbs’ oversight of the Capitol Museum.

On June 28, 2019, Hobbs flew a gay pride flag from the balcony of the Capitol. It was a move that infuriated both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.

Arizona's Secretary of State hangs Pride flag outside the state capitol

The appropriations bill moves oversight of the Capitol museum to the Legislative Oversight Council.

The museum is scheduled for renovation.

The legislature will now decide whether to pass the moves the Appropriations Committee has made, according to ABC15's Garrett Archer.