Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on SB1070, her drive to impeach the redistricting commission, and her book, Scorpions For Breakfast
HH: As promised, joined now by Arizona’s First Lady and Governor, Jan Brewer. She’s the governor of Arizona. She has a brand new book out, Scorpions For Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, And Cynical Politicos To Secure America’s Border. I love the title, Governor Brewer. Welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JB: Thank you, Hugh, it’s good to be with you.
HH: I want to start by saying as I am the youngest of three boys, I assume that Michael is the smart one in your family.
JB: (laughing) I think he would take credit for that.
HH: But how do your three sons adjust to having mom be the chief executive of Arizona?
JB: Well, I think quite a ride for them, of course. They find it exciting, sometimes they find it abusive, sometimes they feel very protective of me. You know, sometimes, it’s difficult. But of course, sometimes, they’re very, very proud, and I couldn’t do it without their love and support.
HH: The reason I bring that up is as I got done with Scorpions For Breakfast, the amount of abuse you took, from the Hitler stuff to just the naked, churlish…and the whole deal surrounding the Tucson tragedy.
HH: It’s got to be tough for your guys. And you’ve got these three boys, and they’re grown, of course, Ron, John and Michael, to put up with this stuff.
JB: Well, it is tough. And it hurts, because we know as children, or if we’re parents, we know how children would feel of having their mother, whom I assume they love, I know that they love me, be put in that kind of light, and have people so critical and so mean-spirited. But they are also intelligent and smart, and they realize that we have a very strained society out there that they like to make hysterical calling of names of people, and they don’t play by the rules, if you will, either. So…
HH: Well, let’s start by going right to the headline of the day. There’s a lot to talk about in Scorpions For Breakfast, especially SB1070. But I want to start with a headline. I hope you’re going to go forward with the impeachment of the members of the redistricting commission for their unconstitutional setting aside of the guidelines, especially compactness that they were supposed to deal with. What’s the status of that, Governor Brewer?
JB: Well, they…I called them into special session, and they have gone to the floor, and they have voted that out. And right now, as we are waiting, we assume that they are trying to go to court to overturn that. Now whether they have success or not, we don’t know. But stay tuned, because this battle is not over.
HH: So you intend to follow through to the best that you can to remove them from that commission?
JB: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, we want a fair and open process. And I issued a letter to the members, and they replied, two of them, one of them under oath of perjury, and the other two not. And so we are going to continue to pursue this and see what direction we need to take. But we’re not going to allow that type of behavior, if you will, in the interest of the public, to continue in that manner.
HH: Do you believe that, it’s sort of a piece with your whole attitude towards governing in Scorpions For Breakfast, that moving forthrightly against quite an obvious hijacking of what was supposed to be a non-partisan effort is consistent with how you’ve governed in every other situation?
JB: I do, absolutely. I think that you have to be a truth teller. And of course, it always comes back to doing the right thing means doing the hard thing. No one likes to be in the front of the battlefield. But you know that’s your job, and you move forward, and you do what’s right. And that’s how you sleep at night.
HH: In the book, there’s quite a lot of biography, autobiography. Wilford and Edna Drinkwine.
HH: And I love their names, by the way, Governor Brewer. You don’t run into many Wilford and Ednas anymore.
JB: I know, or Drinkwines. I always laugh. I say I went from the winery to the brewery. What is that?
HH: So in terms of…did they, were they political people? They were working for the Navy. Your dad died when you were quite young.
HH: It’s a very riveting personal story.
JB: Well, no, they weren’t real political, but they understood that we needed a good, honest government. And they raised me to believe that, and they raised me to know that we had responsibility, as good citizens, and we needed to watch our government, and we certainly needed to pay what necessary taxes were necessary, and what they were supposed to be used for. They were conservatives, and they brought me up in that like. And I have lived basically by what they’ve taught me at their knee.
HH: And I want people to know, you began as a mom activist in front of a school board.
JB: I did.
HH: Would you give people the short version of how you ended up being governor of the Desert State?
JB: Well, I had children who were in school, and I went to a school board meeting, and I was just aghast at what was taking place. And I asked of my husband at the time, I said who are those people, how did they get there and why. And I said I don’t think they’re doing a very good job, and I thought about it, and I said I thought I could just do just as well as they are doing, and I was going to run for the school board, and I was going to make a difference, because I was concerned about my children’s education. And that was the beginning of my career. And my husband said to me at that time, once I decided I was going to do that, that he said Jan, if you really want to make a difference, you should run for the legislature. And that’s where I went.
HH: 14 years in the state legislature, followed by secretary of state, and then governor. Jan Brewer is my guest.
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HH: Gosh, I love that title. That’s a tremendous title. Where’d that come from, Governor Brewer?
JB: I’m sorry?
HH: Where did the title Scorpions For Breakfast come from?
JB: Well, it was interesting. Chuck Norris was blogging, and blogged that Jan Brewer was so tough that she eats scorpions for breakfast. And it sort of went viral, and so I thought that that would be a great title for my book.
HH: Now I want to go right back to SB1070…
HH: And to make sure that everyone understands, this is a book about where SB1070 came from, the precedence before it, because Arizona previously passed legislation that was similar to it, the court battle surrounding it, but give the short, thumbnail summary of what 1070 does, Governor Brewer, though it’s presently enjoined.
JB: Well, what it does is it enforces existing federal immigration law. And it says that it’s illegal to be here in Arizona without documentation. It does not require police to inquire, only when practicable, that they are guilty, or under reasonable suspicion of another offense, to be requested, to request of them identification. And racial profiling is expressly, expressly prohibited under Senate Bill 1070. And I signed an executive order on top of Senate Bill 1070 requiring training of peace officers, specifically forbidding racial profiling. And I will tell you, Hugh, that when I watched and followed and impacted this bill as it went through the legislature, I had three criteria. And it was that it had to work, it had to be Constitutional, and it had to protect civil rights.
HH: Now in the aftermath of this controversy, you got hammered. Cardinal Roger Mahoney said, he wrote, I can’t imagine Arizonans now are reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques, whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities, only on the suspicion of documentation, to which you wrote, are you kidding me, I thought. There was no provision in the bill for anything like that. And that was just the tip of the rhetorically absurd nightmare.
JB: Exactly. He…it was just pouring gas on the flames, you know, and always playing the Hitler card. And then from there, it just kept moving. It was just hysterical name calling, and certainly, followed up by the liberal left media, and they just continued to make cheap accusations to shut the debate down. And you know, I didn’t back down. I just simply wasn’t going to stop. And they just continued to be hateful, and I just continued to fight to Arizona and for America. And I’m not going to back down.
HH: After that explosion of wrath, there was, of course, the terrible tragedy in Tucson – Judge Roll and the other victims, the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, who’s a friend of yours.
HH: And you thought, explain what the Tucson truce was, and what you thought had happened in terms of the political debate in and outside of Arizona?
JB: Well, actually, you know, it was such a horrible, horrible tragedy. And we thought that possibly, that civility would take place. The unfortunate thing about it, that civility was called out by the President, mind you, and then it just turned completely ugly again. We had a sheriff down there that just was a craven opportunist, that just took every opportunity that he could to name call, to make accusations, going after everybody for everything. I mean, Loughner was a madman. I mean, it had nothing to do with politics. I mean, he was a crazed madman. And they just turned it all around to Senate Bill 1070, holding everybody responsible, all the way to Sarah Palin. It’s just unbelievable.
HH: Sheriff Dubnik, you detail his intervention in this, his appearance with Keith Olbermann, and his wildly inaccurate and terribly divisive comments, which of course were ultimately repudiated by everyone except the hard left.
JB: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, Hugh, these are the inside stories, the real story, the truth telling stories that are never, ever reported. No one ever gets to hear that side of the story.
HH: I also like that you go inside the debate over the border, and that you detail going to the White House, the conversations you had, how you thought the so-called Tucson truce would evolved, in not into an agreement on how the border would be controlled, and to how we would talk about it. But then the President goes to El Paso, Texas, and he gives a speech in which he says this.
BHO: But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say, I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time. You know, they said we needed to triple the border patrol. Well now, they’re going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol, or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied.
HH: Governor Jan Brewer, on Page 216 of Scorpions For Breakfast, you write, “Moats, alligators, politics? With these calculated remarks, Obama was dismissing our concerns as essentially groundless, more political grandstanding. He was making clear that in his view, the entire controversy about the border had been ginned up to polarize the electorate and win votes from Republicans. If anything, this was a case of classic Freudian projection, since that’s precisely what he and his allies in the Congress and the press have been doing, even cynically exploiting the shootings in Tucson. Was this what Obama considered a constructive and civil debate? I’d hate to see him when he decides to be uncivil, I thought.” Tough, tough, straight talk, Governor Brewer.
JB: Well, I was so disappointed, shocked and angry sitting at my desk in my office when he was on television making those statements, I could hardly believe my eyes. And I called it the way I heard it. And I am just, when I just heard that again, I cannot tell you the feeling that goes through my body.
HH: In terms of his reaction to Fast & Furious, do you think he’s as cynical and manipulative about that as he has been about the border fence?
JB: You know, yes (laughing). You know, I could say a lot of things, but yes, I do. And I believe that as we sit here in Arizona, trying to fight the battle, and have your federal government at the same time moving arms across our border, to have them come back into Arizona and to kill a very dedicated rancher whom everybody loved and adored, including immigrants, with one of those guns, and then a very noble, proud border patrol agent, Brian Terry, is just crushing. And you know, our federal government is supposed to be protecting us, and here they are, arming cartels in Mexico, to bring violence into America, is just unbelievable to me. And I truly believe that someone needs to be held accountable quickly.
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HH: Governor Brewer, we were talking about Fast & Furious, which is detailed throughout Scorpions For Breakfast. Do you think Eric Holder ought to resign?
JB: Well, I certainly know that many of our Congressional members are calling for his resignation. I certainly think that we need to hold whomever accountable. And it would appear that the man at the top is the person that is responsible, you know? It’s like me. I’m the governor. The buck stops here. And I think that when more testimony comes out, that I’ll be able to make that clear call. At this point in time, I’m still waiting for a little bit more testimony.
HH: And do you think the members of Arizona’s redistricting commission who have violated their charge ought to resign, rather than wait to be impeached?
JB: I would, you know, I certainly would if I was in their shoes. I think that would be the right thing to do. It’s pretty clear and convincing of what has happened in regards to that situation. And we need to move forward, and we need to do it right, and we need to hold the public’s interest at the very top of our agenda when we’re public servants.
HH: Now throughout Scorpions For Breakfast, you talk about the realities of the border situation, from the drop houses where they find, for example, 108 frightened, dehydrated, illegal aliens in one four bedroom house…
HH: Or through all the brutal stuff that happens to the victims of illegal immigration, on both sides of the border. Which of the Republican candidates have addressed this issue to your greatest satisfaction thus far?
JB: Well, I’ll tell you this, Hugh. I think that it has become one of the flashpoints in this election, and I believe that they all have looked into it, they’ve all studied it, they’re all coming up with some pretty good answers. The bottom line is that we’re going to have a debate in Arizona on November 30th, and they’re all going to be there, and I think that night, after hearing definitely from them, what they’re going to tell us in regards to what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it, and are they going to do it by executive order, and how long is it going to take them, then I’ll make my decision.
HH: You think you’ll then announce an endorsement early in December, or even the next day?
JB: I hope that I can.
HH: Governor Jan Brewer, made a little news. I appreciate that, Governor. Once again, congratulations on Scorpions For Breakfast. It’s always something to get Sarah Palin to write you. By the way, congratulations on that. Governor Palin doesn’t do many forwards.
JB: Thank you. I was honored. She really has courage.
HH: Thank you, Governor Brewer.
End of interview.