Usually when I hear stories about a Governmental something-or-other trampling on the 1st amendment rights of Liberty loving Americans I think of national Democrats and their smarmy puling about the beat down they take on Talk Radio.
In what will no doubt be a visual aid for examples of “GOP behaving stupidly”, a group of Arizona Republicans (likely outmaneuvered by the lone Democrat involved), has decided that the 1st Amendment’s guarantees don’t extend to residents of Maricopa County if the people doing the speaking happen to also work for the Government.
At issue are relationships members of the County Attorney’s office have with the media, including a few bloggers. Not all the media, however, just those beating up on the Maricopa County Supervisors County Manager’s office. Seems the Board of Supervisors has been feuding with other state departments for some time, including messing with Maricopa County’s best known government employee, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Not only that, the same Supes squeezing the County Attorney employees have a really bad track record when it comes to things like character and integrity. The gaggle of liberal GOP Supes and the lone Dem in their midst have been accused of “wasteful spending, power grabs and criminal investigations” and there’s even a Twitter account, CorruptAZSupes.
The dispute with the County Attorney’s office got so bad the County Supervisors fired the County Attorney as their legal representative. And now the County Manager, David Smith, has decided to divert attention from his own side’s misbehaving by brow beating those pesky bloggers and their friends.
Smith sent a letter to the County Attorney’s office demanding to know who had relationships with bloggers - or else! They even specifically demand to know about activity that might have taken place on an employee’s personal time and their personal computers! Specifically named in the letter is Michael Scerbo, the County Attorney PIO, who is SUPPOSED to be in touch with the media! While there are some traditional media outlets mentioned, blogs are specifically targeted. The Sonoran Alliance, The Cactus Alliance and Intellectual Conservative Arizona are all named in the letter as being eeeeeeevil bloggers that bad County Attorney employees shouldn’t have anything to do with.
Given the dust-up going on inside the GOP in places like NY-23 and Doug Hoffman v Dede Scozzafava and Florida’s Senate race with Marco Rubio v Charlie Crist where GOP stalwarts cling to Liberal policies and personalities, I shouldn’t be surprised to find Republicans squelching free speech and trying to use the power of their office - not to serve the people but to intimidate them.
One hopes that Arizonans have the ability to recall County Managers who seem ignorant of 1st amendment provisions or at least that the Supes are elected and must face the voters of Maricopa County for this.
Cross-posted with links to additional blog coverage at Blue Collar Muse.