Kris Mayes has no plans to put up toll roads in Arizona.
That she even has to say that pains her, but that’s the reality of campaigning in the age of Twitter.
The Democratic candidate for state Attorney General would rather be talking about protecting consumers, keeping fentanyl out of Arizona and addressing questions about water and the state’s new abortion law.
But opponent Abe Hamadeh keeps lobbing lies (let’s call them what they are) on social media that often demand a response. The toll roads was just one. Mayes addresses some, dismisses others and is clearly annoyed by them all.
“You can’t spend all your time responding to insanity, and that’s what this campaign is all about,” she said during a visit to our office Friday.
Her concerns go deeper when it comes to the attention Arizona is getting with Republicans Hamadeh, Kari Lake and Mark Finchem — who all deny the validity of the 2020 election results — on the November ballot.
“How do we attract new businesses to a state where chaos and crazy are the baseline?” Mayes asks.
To wit: Hamadeh wants to decertify the 2020 election, wouldn’t have certified it in the first place if he were AG, and wants to lock up county elections officials.
With crazy dealt with, we moved on to the issues.
Abortion: Mayes said she will not prosecute under the state’s new abortion law because she says it’s unconstitutional (an Arizona Court of Appeals panel put that ban on hold Friday night, after our interview with Mayes). Arizona’s Constitution offers an express right to privacy (Article II, Section 8) that she says allows women to make those decisions without interference. If elected, she will reverse the opinion of current AG Mark Brnovich on the law and insert her own. “Then, of course, the case will continue to move through the court system and we’ll see what the Arizona Supreme Court has to say,” she said.
Fighting scams: Mayes said Brnovich politicized the AG's office, especially since announcing his (failed) bid for U.S. Senate. He diverted millions of dollars from the consumer fraud revolving fund — the money the AG uses to prosecute fraud cases — into the “federalism unit.” Why? Because those are the high-profile, sexy cases that Mayes said mostly failed, “but that succeeded in getting him on Fox News.”
“One reason that consumer fraud is out of control in Arizona is that we have an AG who’s not doing his job. You can’t fight consumer fraud effectively if you don’t have the millions of dollars to keep the lawyers in this division. So we’re going to put the money back.” Mayes cited some depressing numbers: The AG’s office received 15,000 consumer fraud complaints last year; the country has seen a 70% increase in fraud-related losses primarily targeting the elderly; and — you’ll love this — Mayes went through all the (public) files and found Brnovich criminally prosecuted virtually no physical elder abuse cases and few financial exploitation cases.
Fentanyl: Mayes said the Ducey administration is sitting on $5 billion that could help tackle big issues like this. It’s there to help Arizonans and this is a growing problem.
Elections security: A reader wanted to know what can be done to protect poll workers in 2024. Mayes recounted how the Yavapai County Recorder and elections director resigned this summer after more than a year of threats against them and their families over the 2020 election results. “There are laws against intimidating elections officials and we’ll enforce those laws when I’m Attorney General,” Mayes said.
Room doesn’t allow for more details, but find out more at krismayes.com.
— Dan Shearer