Bartles and Jaymes called. They want their congressman back!
Frank Riggs may have relocated to Arizona in 2001 but the astute voter can clearly detect the odor of California politics emanating from the former congressman. Perhaps it’s just sour grapes.
Riggs, who tried to run for Arizona Governor in 2006, quit his exploratory bid when he realized he failed to meet Arizona’s residency requirement for the race.
Riggs pulled the same quitting maneuver in California – twice! When a Democrat state senator challenged him in his congressional re-election, Riggs quit and decided to run for the U.S. Senate instead. But then he dropped out of that race too, blaming his lack of fund-raising prowess and the long commute between northern California and D.C. (Tony Perry, “Riggs’ Money Woes Kill Longshot Bid for U.S. Senate,” Los Angeles Times, 4/10/1998)
But quitting his political races at the slightest nudge of a challenge is not the only indicator of Riggs’ lack of preparedness and commitment.
The former congressman also had a problem keeping his promises. According to the same article, “Riggs spent considerable time in his first term deflecting criticism that he reneged on a promise to turn over his congressional pay increase to charity (he ended up sending half to charity) and another pledge not to take contributions from the oil and timber industries” (read article). Why Riggs held on to the other half of his pay raise, and broke his promise to reject big industry cash, is open to speculation but it may be another indicator that the congressman simply had a problem handling money.
The same Los Angeles Times article stated that Riggs violated federal campaign finance laws and only dodged being penalized because the statute of limitations had run out: “A Federal Elections Commission audit of his 1990 campaign found that he had violated election law by improperly bankrolling his campaign with corporate money and loans from his mother, father and sister that exceeded contribution limits.” When honest people are desperate for cash, they usually buckle down their expenses and find ways to earn extra money – not bend the rules as a means of financial survival.
Keep in mind, this is the same Frank Riggs who paraded himself alongside six other freshmen Republicans in 1992 as the “Gang of Seven.” You remember these crusaders. They took on the infamous House banking scandal that embroiled fellow members of Congress who had overdrawn their House checking accounts. There’s only one problem: if you’re going to place yourself on an elite pedestal, you’d better be above reproach yourself. It was later discovered that Riggs also bounced several checks as part of the scandal. Ouch!
But it must be noted that Riggs not only didn’t mind burdening others with his financial problems, he also doesn’t mind burdening small business with increased costs by voting to raise the minimum wage not once, not twice, not even three times. Congressman Frank Riggs voted for legislation to raise the minimum wage four times. That’s four opportunities Riggs missed to stand up for small business and free market economic principles. Today, of course, he claims to be an advocate for small businesses and free enterprise, which directly contradicts previous support for increasing the minimum wage. Can you say flip flop?
But wait, it gets worse! During one term of Congressman Frank Riggs tenure, he managed to sneak $35 Million of pork into bills to benefit his district. That’s right. All told, Congressman Riggs brought home the bacon in the form of university buildings and a harbor dredging project(read article). Doesn’t quite sound like the congressman who only two years earlier, signed on to the Contract with American opining about fiscal prudence and balanced budgets.
But even when Congressman Frank Riggs bothered to show up for work and vote (he missed a higher-than-average number of roll call votes, according to GovTrack), his conservative rating was mediocre at best. According to VoteSmart and the American Conservative Union, Riggs scored a lifetime conservative rating of 76%. To put that in perspective, Riggs’ lifetime conservative score was lower than every one of Arizona’s Republican delegation at the time – including Jim Kolbe.
And when Riggs makes bad votes, they’re not just minor swerves to the left – they’re major over of the cliff calamities. Take the January 12, 1991 vote authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq in accordance with US Security Council Resolution 678. Congressman Frank Riggs was one of three Republicans in the US House who voted against it. Arizona has already had its handful of unprincipled Republicans. She cannot afford another one – especially in the Governor’s office.
Anyone who performs a political credit check on Frank Riggs will easily discover that he scores far below the caliber Arizonans demand in their next governor. When our neighbors to the west leave California, they usually come here for a good reason – to leave behind the liberal California policies, values and bureaucratic regulations and red tape that strangled their businesses and finances. But, based on his record, Frank Riggs wants to bring those mediocre values to Arizona’s government. Republican voters in Arizona are smart and can sniff out the scent of a faux conservative. They should turn up their noses to candidates like Frank Riggs who cannot reconcile their rhetoric with their record.