Judicial Watch takes its eye off the ball

By Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute

Judicial Watch, the Washington, D.C.-based group that describes itself as a conservative watchdog, has taken on all types of government corruption and waste.

Among them is the scandalous practice of union release-time, in which government employees are given paid time to perform union work, including lobbying and campaigning.  Judicial Watch condemned Miami-Dade County, Florida Mayor Carlos Alvarez for allowing “public transit workers to be excused from their regular duties while still collecting taxpayer salaries.” Among Judicial Watch’s bill of particulars against the mayor was the “1,300 union police officers who make over $100,000 at the department Alvarez worked in and headed for years.” Outrageous, said Judicial Watch.

So imagine our shock when Judicial Watch announced it would try to intervene in the Goldwater Institute’s challenge to release time in Phoenix—to defend the practice that diverts six full-time police officers and thousands of hours of police time for “union business,” including lobbying and campaigning.

Why the sudden shift in principle?

The explanation appears to lie in Judicial Watch’s recent hire of Mark Spencer as its “Southwest Projects Coordinator.” Before joining Judicial Watch, Spencer was the Phoenix police union’s president and lobbyist, where—you guessed it—he was on release time, receiving the pay and pension benefits of a full-time police officer while riding a union desk.

Release time is widespread among Arizona municipalities (Scottsdale is a notable exception). Phoenix’s release time provisions in contracts with its seven government worker unions cost taxpayers $4 million per year, according to a Goldwater Institute investigation released last year.

Seems like just the type of scandal Judicial Watch would sniff out—if it hadn’t compromised its mission.

Clint Bolick is Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Money for Nothing: Phoenix Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Union Work

Goldwater Institute: Cheatham v. Gordon

Judicial Watch Release: Judicial Watch, Phoenix Police Officers Seek to Protect Officers’ Employment Agreement

Judicial Watch Blog: Union Workers Campaign For Mayor On Taxpayer Time


  1. Yea, let’s talk about position changes, wind sniffing, bird walking, fence riding aka shock that the Goldwater Institute has now changed their position on police and fire.

    Competitive Management – remember Sal Diciccio going after the City of Phoenix unions? Yea baby, let’s gut the garage and outsource that 32 mil: we can save millions because “1 dollar in the cities hands equals 5 to 7 in the private sector.”

    Sal and his pal’s Frankie A. (state senate) and Byron S. (Goldwater) failed to address the 62%+ question, Phoenix police and fire = 62%+ of the 3.5 billion city budget.

    Why are police and fire unions now an issue?

    What is the issue?

  2. Conservative American says:

    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, Clint!

    Who is a former Executive Director of the Goldwater Institute? Why none other than Congressman Jeff Flake! You know Jeff Flake. He’s the guy who, along with “progressive” Democrat Luis Gutierrez of Chicago, co-authored the infamous STRIVE Act which would have given amnesty to illegal aliens. Yeah, THAT Jeff Flake, LOL!

    Who co-sponsored Flake’s STRIVE Act? None other than then Congressman Rahm Emanuel. You know, the guy who was Obama’s Chief of Staff and who is now Mayor of Chicago.

    We’re talking about the same Jeff Flake who, when confronted about not keeping his promise to serve only three terms in the House, stated flatly, “I lied”, and laughed!

    That was your Executive Director and you want to call out Judicial Watch? Get real!

  3. Slightly off topic, but Clint Bolick (pronounced “Bolshevik”) is currently in a ’69 lock with Jeb Bush to write/publish their upcoming book: “How To Suck Illegals Without Staining Your Clothes.”

    Bolshevik explained on “Horizon” last night that since half of the Goldwater Institute believes it WILL stain your clothes, he is doing this as an “independent” side project. Contributors to the G.I. should be demanding his removal as Executive Director immediately. By the way, Bolshevik also explained he is NOT A REPUBLICAN.

    • Conservative American says:

      “By the way, Bolshevik also explained he is NOT A REPUBLICAN.” Oh! That explains why this was sounding like Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, LOL! ;-)

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