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Posted Jun 2, 2012, 12:35 pm
Ken Bennett is backpedaling on a promise he made to voters. This choice shows both a lack of leadership and a disregard for his duties as a public servant.
As secretary of state, Bennett is Arizona's top election official. He seemed to understand the responsibilities associated with that position two years ago when he was campaigning for the office. Back then, he said it would be improper for the secretary of state to publicly support a candidate or a ballot measure.
Apparently, Bennett changed his mind because he is currently the co-chair of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign. Being a co-chair of a presidential campaign sure seems like public support in my eyes.
My question is: what does Bennett want to be, a public servant or a political operative? It is improper for him to be both.He needs to step down from one of these positions and restore public trust as soon as possible.
Last month, Bennett bowed to pressure from the Tea Party "birther" movement and questioned the validity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate even though this question has been answered time and time again.He said constituent requests prompted him to ask Hawaiian officials to verify the information in Obama's birth certificate. He obliged those requests and said that he considered keeping Obama off the Arizona ballot until Hawaiian officials responded.
Now he is ignoring constituent requests to make a similar inquiry related to Romney's birth certificate. This time, constituent requests are not enough. The request must come from a law enforcement official – like Tea Party "birther" Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Why the double standard here? Clearly, he is making up the rules as he goes along. He keeps changing his story to justify his actions. This is not the kind of leadership Arizonans need or want.
Bennett is responsible for protecting the integrity of the election process.He is struggling to fulfill both his campaign obligations to Romney and his responsibilities as the state's top election officer. He appears to be using his position to promote one presidential candidate over another and in doing sohe broke a promise he made to votersjust two years ago. That is troubling.
It is because of this breach of public trust that I asked Bennett to resign either as secretary of state or as a campaign operative. I sent him a letter last month asking him to give up one of his jobs. I also asked him to work with me to make the secretary of state position non-partisan.
Arizonans are still waiting for an answer.
A Democrat, state House Minority Leader Chad Campbell is a Phoenix native and lifelong Arizona resident. A graduate of Moon Valley High School and Northern Arizona University, Chad is a state representative for District 14, which covers parts of central and west Phoenix.