The O’Connor House—a shadowy group of elites intent on stripping Arizonans of their rights -Is Coughlin behind this?

The Arizona Republic gave former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s “O’Connor House Project” primo coverage on what the Republic billed as a “government reform effort” pushed by a “broad-based group.”

In reality, this shadowy group is committed to stripping Arizonans of their rights and taking us back to the old days where our Legislature was captive of Big Money Special Interests. Let’s look at what the O’Connor House has in mind when it talks about “reform.”

·Stripping Arizonans of our democratic rights to vote for Superintendent of Public Instruction and state Treasurer

·Getting rid of term limits

·Getting rid of Clean Elections

·Doubling the length of state senate terms to four years

·“Reforming” primary elections to make them less partisan

“Allowing candidates to pay a “fee” to get on the ballot rather than collect signatures

All of these “reform” efforts have a common theme: the O’Connor House people don’t like the kind of people who are elected by Arizonans, especially now that we have removed Big Money from the electoral process for state elections. They much prefer the old days when candidates for public office had to supplicate themselves to liberal business interests. They want a return to those days when the Special Interests could simply buy the Legislature and ensure that conservative ideas were squelched.

They want to get rid of term limits and increase the length of state senate terms simply for cost saving reasons. Term limits make the process of buying politicians more expensive because they have to keep buying new elected officials as the old ones get termed out. And the longer terms are, the less often these Special Interests have to pony up. It’s amazing how transparent they are about it—they even want Big Money Special Interests to be able to buy spots on the ballot for candidates.

These ideas are way out of the Arizona mainstream. Term limits are popular with everyone except politicians, lobbyists, the media, and other elites. If anything, the public would want to make our term limit laws stricter. It’s laughable to think that given the current state of things, voters are going to take seriously a proposal to abolish term limits, or to increase the terms of legislators.

It’s also important to question who exactly is behind this group—it’s website does not name the members or funding sources. But clearly this group appears to be espousing some of the same radical ideas espoused by left-leaning uber-lobbyist and friend of Brewer Chuck Coughlin in a recent Republic column.

Coughlin proposed abolishing Clean Elections and term limits. His article also included this gem: “Taxpayer funding [through Clean Elections] removes any market test for candidates to justify themselves in front of centrist-based business.” Who anointed these Big Money businesses this way? When did we ever agree that these Special Interests should occupy some special position that allowed them to veto candidates they deemed unworthy or insufficiently liberal?

The O’Connor House has injected itself and its liberal agenda into our political process, which is of course their right. But we have a right to know who is a part of this group and who is funding it. We call on the O’Connor House to release the following information:

·A clarification of the role that Chuck Coughlin is playing in the group, and full disclosure of any arrangements, formal or informal, with Coughlin or his firm, HighGround, to handle lobbying or ballot efforts for any of these ideas

·A list of members of this group

·A list of all contributors to this group, along with the amounts contributed

In addition to the liberal, anti-democratic principles being espoused by the O’Connor House, we call on them to embrace openness.


  1. nightcrawler says

    I would imagine there are several elected officials who support this. This sounds like the Incumbent Protection Act to me.

  2. Here is my idea for reform – let’s do away with the state Senate. What is the point for it as it is currently constituted? All it does right now is add a third representative to districts with the same terms as the House. It seems a huge waste of resources and money to me and it also obfuscates the process and makes it twice as difficult to follow what is happening in the legislature. This would also make term-limit fanatics happy because it would automatically do away with the ability to keep bouncing between House and Senate.

    States are claimed to be the ‘laboratory of democracy’ yet 49 of the 50 basically blindly adopt the federal government model with executive, court and bicameral legislature. Nebraska has seemed to function well with a unicameral legislature. In 2010 Maine will like have this as a proposition on its ballot. Maybe this is an idea whose time has come.

  3. “the O’Connor House people don’t like the kind of people who are elected by Arizonans,”

    If this sounds vaguely familiar to anyone, check back on how GOP legislators were twittering Grover to check on their No Tax Pledge stance – looks like the state budget solutions are brought to by people who don’t vote in AZ.

  4. …and the Yoda masters behind the O’Connor Project…how about former State Represenative Jennifer Burns and Napolitano lobbyist Mike Haener. The O’Connor Project is a pre-determined conclusion in search of a “justifying” process. Arizona does not need new experiments like this – it comes from “tinkerers” who continually try to “reform” in order to gain an end…rather than allowing citizens the offer of a means.

  5. Did you really just call the business lobby liberal? Are you really standing up for Clean Elections–a taxpayer funded public finance system for political campaigns in which candidates will use the money to speak to a political idealism?

    I have seen some really odd posts come across the blogwaves from this particular site but this is really a stretch!

  6. I’ll match Todd and raise him: get rid of the House and have a 30-member unicameral body. Call it the “Politician Reduction Act.” It would win with 80 percent of the vote.

  7. Will Sandy and her “blue rinse bombers” revive the Phoenix 40?

    Shades of Burton Barr and Mary Crisp!!

  8. I started reading this and when I got to the opposing interests being touted as a diabolical plot…I looked at the author…sure ‘nuf.

    Clean elections is a taxpayer subsidy. Plain and simple. If a candidate has the where with all to get elected, they should be able to get it done. Look at the guy in Utah, he walked his Congressional district and spent the bare minimum. State races will be hard…they should be! It can be done. Will we have neophytes running, who have never served a day or built a name in their communities…probably not. Oh well.

    Term limits usurp the right of the voter to select their own representation. It is nothing more than a communal form of superdelegate”. The electorate is too dumb to get it right, so we will limit how many times they can get it wrong…is that what you want Mr/Mrs/Ms Chewie? Term limits need to go.

    The whole post is nothing more than one more sour grapes attempt to connect dots that only exist in the mind of….the Chewie Group!

  9. Not a shocker flip flopper Chewie is a big proponent of taxpayer subsidies when it serves his or her interests. Clean elections and term limits are partly to blame for the mess we are in.

  10. Lack of term limits (on the federal level) got us into this mess. On the state level we either need to go with a unicameral legislator or toughen term limits so career politicians can’t jump from house to house. Other than abolishing clean elections which is welfare for politicians, most of the remaining items are anti-democratic (with a small “d”).

  11. Whiskey Jack says


    Let me guess–you’re a lobbyist!


    Let me get this straight–elected officials have put us in the mess we are in, so let’s get rid of term limits and allow these politicians to serve for even longer periods of time, so they can mess up even more things? Brilliant logic!

    As for Clean Elections, imagine how much worse a mess we would be in if the big-spending business interests owned the Legislature like they used to.

  12. These are exceptionally simple ideas that put the 1912 Arizona constitution more in line with the 1789 US constitution. There is nothing original, innovative, revolutionary or liberal about these ideas.

  13. Getting rid of clean elections is probably their biggest agenda item. Guess what? It’s also one of the biggest agenda items for the Goldwater Institute and the Free Enterprise Club (hotbeds of liberalism there). If you support Clean Elections then you honestly cannot call yourself a conservative. Clean Elections is a welfare program for politicians. Anyone on this list who is still advocating for it is no different from liberals advocating for bailouts–only this bailout is for politicians. If we didn’t have clean elections we would have had 8 peaceful years of Gov. Matt Salmon. We never would have had Janet or Jan, for that matter. More importantly we would have had Republicans who could honestly tell voters they don’t support handouts and welfare because they never took money from the government either.

    And lobbyists hating term limits? Really? Term limits have been the lobbyist and staff empowerment act. We have a great term limit every two years: it’s called an election. It’s called Democracy.

  14. No lobbyist here. I believe I can spend my money better than the government and I likewise don’t need the government defining who should be my elected representative.

    If I want to give money to a candidate, I will and have. If I want to vote to elect and re-elect a candidate I will and have.

    By the same token, if I think a candidate is not of my liking…they get neither my money nor my vote. Incumbent or not, it is my call!

  15. So, this is what we now have in Arizona:

    National laughingstock.

    So, my taxes are going to go up for the next twenty years because they (Behind CLOSED DOORS) decided to sell the Fricking capital buildings?

    How about we sell the legislature with the inhabitants inside, sealed in with nothing to do until they pass a freaking balanced budget!!!!








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