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Pearce's welfare remarks cost him GOP job

Sep 16, 2014

Arizona Republic

Sadly hateful folks like Russell Pearce and Cathi Herrod flock to government. They know that if they can get involved in government they can use it to force their hate on the rest of us. And of course terrorized people they hate using the force of government.

While this article doesn't mention Cathi Herrod, she is probably the most powerful woman in Arizona despite the fact that she isn't an elected offical. Cathi Herrod runs CAP or the Center for Arizona Policy which is extremely successful in getting the government to pass laws which mix religion and government and are turning Arizona into a Christian theocracy.

Pearce's welfare remarks cost him GOP job

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Republic | 9:46 p.m. MST September 15, 2014

GOP candidates swiftly distanced themselves over the weekend from an Arizona Republican Party official's statement that women on public assistance should be forced to go on birth control. The remarks by Russell Pearce, a former state senator and first vice chairman of the state party, were quickly condemned by Republican candidates for Congress, governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Political analysts said Republicans' rapid response signaled concern that opponents could use the issue to score points with voters in the weeks before the general election and fear Democrats here could claim the party is waging a "war on women" as they have elsewhere.

Pearce made the remarks Sept. 6 on his radio program: "You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get a woman Norplant, birth-control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol and nicotine. If you want to (reproduce) or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job," he said.

In a statement issued by the Republican Party late Sunday, Pearce said he would step down as the party's vice chairman because he did not want his remarks to overshadow GOP candidates' campaigns. Pearce added that the controversial comments were "written by someone else" and that he had "failed to attribute them to the author." He blamed the media for using his remarks to "hurt our Republican candidates."

Pearce, best known for his role in passing the state's hard-line immigration law Senate Bill 1070, served as Arizona Senate president before he was removed in a recall election in 2011. He remains an influential figure among conservative Republicans.

GOP political consultant Stan Barnes said Republicans moved quickly to address the controversy because Pearce's remarks could lead some to believe Republicans are "anti-women."

"No candidate, no party wants to be associated with extremism politics a few weeks before general elections day," Barnes said. "It's one thing to be controversial on immigration or on the proper role of government, or any other item that Russell Pearce has been controversial on. But it feels scary to the average voter to hear discussions of support for sterilization in exchange for government services."

Before Democrats could impose the an anti-women narrative on GOP candidates, Barnes said, "These candidates had to act and get in front of it."

David Berman, a senior research fellow at Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said Pearce's comments could have been used to further a perception that Republicans are waging a "war on women."

"That's an image that seems to be dogging them around the country," Berman said. "The party is having problems with women on abortion and other issues, and Pearce probably reinforced what perhaps many women think about Republican policies towards women."

Republican candidates Doug Ducey, Mark Brnovich, Michele Reagan, Andy Tobin, Martha McSally and others repudiated Pearce's remarks, which were first reported by Phoenix New Times columnist Stephen Lemons. The Republican Party announced Pearce's resignation around 11 p.m. Sunday — hours after the GOP candidates expressed their displeasure.

"Comments that demean the plight of the poor, including women in the dual role of mother and economic provider, are not conservative; they're cruel," attorney general candidate Brnovich said in a statement. "And I reject them."

Reagan, who is running for secretary of state, called for Pearce to resign via Twitter: "The obnoxious comments made by Russell Pearce were both disgusting and offensive. Let it be known, he is NOT the voice of my GOP. #Resign!"

Citizens for a Better Arizona protest at the county treasurer's office calling for the ouster of Russell Pearce.

A day earlier, Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director DJ Quinlan had highlighted Pearce's comments in a news release, saying the "silence" of GOP leaders "indicates that they have made a cynical calculation that Russell Pearce and his brand of politics appeals to the most extreme elements of their electoral base."

Democrats did seize on Pearce's remarks to raise money, and Maricopa County supervisor candidate Steve Gallardo demanded that Pearce resign or be fired from his position at the county.

Maricopa County Treasurer Charles Hoskins told The Republic in July that Pearce accepted his offer to work on the "elderly assistance program," which helps keep people in their homes. Pearce's job description, released Monday, also calls for him to work with "government relations and state legislatures." Pearce began his job with the treasurer on Aug. 4, a county spokeswoman said. He is paid $41 an hour.

Pearce's remarks appear to trace back to a letter published in the Nov. 18, 2010, opinion section of the Waco Tribune-Herald. That letter was submitted by Alfred W. Evans of Gatesville, Texas. The letter read, in part: "Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

"Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth-control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings, then get a job."

Pearce issued his resignation to party Chairman Robert Graham. Pearce wrote "that hosting a radio show and the nature of the debates that we have had and will continue to have are incompatible with what our Party needs from its leadership team."

Graham declined to comment.

Democratic attorney general candidate Felecia Rotellini said Pearce's comments were shocking.

"This fits in with the position of their party — to be anti-women and anti-choice, and to have positions that don't empower women," Rotellini said. "And I think that is why so many people aren't looking at party politics anymore."

She applauded those who called for Pearce's resignation.


Yvonne Wingett Sanchez covers the Governor's Office and state politics and leads The Republic's coverage of the race for Arizona governor.

How to reach her

Phone: 602-444-4712

Twitter: @yvonnewingett