Ed Berger, retired teacher, lives in Arizona and fights for the return of honest government.

He writes:

Arizona Government Does Not Match The Decency And Will Of Its People

We live in Arizona. We are decent, law abiding, citizens. So why is Arizona considered one of the most corrupt states in America? Why is Arizona often the example of how Democracy can be subverted? Why is our state out of sync with its population? What is wrong? Arizona government does not match the values of our citizens.
What can we do to make our elected representatives reflect the decency and will of the people? We must vote to remove those who corrupt the democratic process and their elected positions by accepting Dark Money.

Let’s examine a recent Senate/House vote. House Bill 2153 was passed into law over the objections of community leaders and citizens of all political parties and went into effect April 2, 2018. It prohibits any local government requirement to identify contributors to local political campaigns. Seventeen Senate members and thirty-three House members approved this measure and Governor Ducey signed it into law. This runs counter to initiatives by many communities acting in the public interest to expose Dark Money and its’ use to buy and place representatives and government leaders. They want to stop the covert, negative and destructive methods of oligarchs that bypass the citizen’s right to elect representatives they have vetted and chosen.

This is a current example of how the will of the people was ignored. To clean AZ government, we can study how representatives voted on key issues like this one, share their deeds, and get the bad ones gone. What We The People now have is a list of the seventeen senators and thirty-three house members who sold us out.

Prescott is still reeling from the effect of Dark Money in recent elections. In the race for District #1, few know that DeVos money (Dark Money) went to support a candidate this community rejected. With access to DeVos money and the use of gerrymandering, the citizen’s candidate was undermined and defeated. His opponent won and now owes DeVos bigtime. The recent mayoral election in Prescott is another example of how democracy is subverted by money and power. Those elected to represent us in the legislature are too often there because they owe allegiance to those who want our government to serve them, and not the people.

When one is aware of this fact, we can begin to understand how tens of millions of our taxpayer dollars have not only been mismanaged but have gone into the pockets of privatizers and profiteers. For many years, our legislature has passed and supported laws that do not allow accounting or transparency for how taxpayer public dollars are spent by charter schools. They have also done away with conflict of interest rules that would make it a criminal offence for legislators to use public money and position for personal gain. In addition, they have done away with democratically elected schools boards in favor of private corporate boards to oversee charter schools. Real public schools have elected school boards. But those who control the legislature have eliminated the tools of transparency and accountability that protect our investment in public education from being siphoned off from the needs of children and into the pockets of privateers.

This has been done to our state. Captive and bought members of the legislature have created uncounted millionaires by directing our money to friends, family, and those they support ideologically. This has been done out of pure greed. Ideologically it is done to starve and damage our public schools because they are “government schools” and have not yet been privatized for profit, not for kids. These are our schools, the ones over 80% of AZ citizens want to support and improve.

These are two on the many examples of the subversion of the democratic process. Yavapai County is reported to be a Republican stronghold. Some say people here always voted a straight “R” ticket. That may have been true years ago. Today Yavapai County is not Republican or Democrat or Independent. The citizens of this county have learned that the state government is not GOP, but rather a Koch, Goldwater Institute, APS, ALEC assembly of people who often describe themselves a Libertarians, which roughly translated means, ‘We have the right to rape, rip, and run if it serves us. We have the right to access for our personal gain the taxes citizens pay. We believe in privatizing all public resources, including prisons, schools and government functions.’ If one votes a straight “R” ticket what they are getting is a “Koch” ticket. Times have changed and now the legislature and governor are owned by forces that serve only themselves. Too often our politicians dance with the ones who ‘brung’ them.

So how do we win back the respect of other Americans and our decency as a people?

#1 We identify the legislators and political leaders that are owned by outside forces. We do this by examining their voting records and red tag all who have voted for laws that restrict financial accountability, shield members from conflicts of interest, and favor those who profit from privatizing prisons, schools, and public services.

#2 We share our information, educate our friends and neighbors, and support candidates that, regardless of political party affiliation, represent us and our community.

#3 We vote after vetting the candidates.