Friday, April 8, 2016

On the second page: AZ House bans reporters. Might it have something to do with Speaker Gowan's abuse of power?

Daily Star columnist Tim Steller has the latest about AZ House Speaker David Gowan's shameful record.

The speakership of Southern Arizona Rep. David Gowan has gone from hopeful to disappointing to a full-on fiasco.

This year, controversy after controversy has dogged Gowan, culminating in Thursday’s shameful climax. His office demanded this week that the reporters who have badges allowing them onto the House floor go through an extensive background check or be expelled from the floor. They chose not to accept the new requirement and were banished to the gallery, as Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reported.

For more on this check out the Daily Star's report on the House's treatment of reporters.

Steller continues.

It was all for security reasons, Gowan and some of his Republican colleagues insisted. They needed to be sure the reporters on the floor didn’t pose a danger.

Let’s not put too fine a point on it: That justification is complete bull.

By restricting journalists in the name of suddenly urgent “security” concerns, Gowan was treading a path broken by dictators like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. If they don’t like what someone is reporting, they declare the journalist a “terrorist” or the outlet a security risk, and shut them down.

In Gowan’s case, the target was plainly obvious: Hank Stephenson, a reporter who covers the House for the Arizona Capitol Times. Stephenson had the temerity in January to uncover the unethical use of cars from the state fleet by Gowan and other House members.

Although those cars are “for official use only,” Stephenson reported, Gowan and other House members had begun under his speakership to use them for all sorts of unofficial business on the taxpayers’ dime.

Gowan, who went on a campaign trip in a state car, ended up paying back $12,000 to the state and asking the Attorney General’s Office to investigate his actions. That rankled, of course, and Stephenson has continued his tough reporting.

In addition to feeding at the public trough, Gowan enjoys the protection of the House ethics committee. Which, of course, is a committee the sole purpose of which is for show. There are no ethics in the GOP side of the house. Period. None.

Although Democrats in the House filed an ethics complaint against Gowan and others who appeared to have abused state-car privileges, Rep. David Stevens, the chair of the House ethics committee, declined to investigate. Stevens, by the way, is Gowan’s friend and seatmate from Sierra Vista, appointed to the chairmanship by the speaker.

Lest. you have any doubts at this point, consider the contiguity of the House's treatment of reporters this week and Stephenson's reporting of Gowan cuddling up to the Diamondbacks co-owner.

This week, Stephenson posted on Twitter, the social media site, a photo of a television screen showing the Arizona Diamondbacks opening-night game: Behind a batter, there was Gowan, sitting next to Arizona Diamondbacks co-owner Mike Ingram in the front row.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, Ingram is chairman of a company, El Dorado Holdings, trying to build a 28,000-home master-planned community west of Benson. Gowan is sponsoring a bill that would make it easier for El Dorado and other developers to get tax-exempt bond financing for building infrastructure in new projects like this one, which is in his legislative district.

The AZ House is an ethical cesspool. Its denizens (aka GOPlins) exist mainly to serve themselves. Gowan is just the most glaring example. So far this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment