BREAKING: Why has Katie Hobbs ceased being governor of Arizona until tomorrow morning?

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Dear reader, we are going to confess that as of this writing we don’t actually know very much. To give credit where credit is due, we were told by @WaTxCa that as of this moment Katie Hobbs is not technically the governor of Arizona anymore. Meaning the state treasurer, a woman named Kimberly Yee, is saying she is acting governor until sometime tomorrow. Here’s Ms. Yee’s press release:

So, the question is, what happened? The only clue we are given is that Yee indicates that she expects it to happen ‘later this evening’ (it is apparently three hours earlier in Arizona) and for it to persist through mid-morning. On that time frame, it might be the case that Yee has already become acting governor. Was this some kind of planned trip, where the plan was not shared with the public ahead of time? Does Hobbs perhaps have a family emergency out of state? We are reminded slightly of the time Governor Mark Sanford went missing, allegedly hiking on the Appalachian trial, only to turn out that he had gone to Argentina for an affair. We are not saying that Hobbs has done anything like that but it is an example of how these things can start relatively small and then blossom into larger stories.

Also, Yee talks about how she won’t be appointing any persons to thirteen agencies that have vacancies and she is not going to call the legislature into session to confirm them. What is that about? Well, it seems to be about this:

That links to an Arizona Capitol Times article that says:

Yee refuses to recognize Hobbs’ ‘executive deputy directors’

The top elected Republican in Arizona is refusing to recognize the ‘executive deputy directors’ named by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee said she did not allow those tapped by the governor as heads of two state agencies to sit at a meeting this week of the State Board of Investment. That panel reviews the $30 billion in investments of the treasurer and actually serves as trustee for certain funds.

It also, by law, includes the director of the Department of Administration and the Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions.

Only thing is, there are no ‘directors,’ at least not officially.

That’s because Hobbs, upset with the failure of the Senate to act on their nominations, not only withdrew them from consideration but removed them as interim directors. She then had them reinstalled through a procedural maneuver as each agency’s ‘executive deputy director.’

That, said Yee, herself a former state senator, is illegal. And she won’t accept those named deputies to be voting members of the panel.

‘I believe she is thumbing her nose at the law,’ the treasurer said of the governor. Yee said Hobbs should understand that, with the two having served in the Senate at the same time.

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So, there was apparently a dispute over certain appointments and we are not going to pretend to know nearly enough to sort through who is right or wrong. The other question is how is the treasurer suddenly the acting governor? The same article answers that question:

The Arizona Constitution spells out that in the governor’s ‘absence from the state,’ the next in line automatically assumes the powers and duties of the office.

Hobbs has been out of state since Sunday and was not set to return until Thursday morning.

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes was scheduled to leave Wednesday night. And Attorney General Kris Mayes also is gone.

Strictly speaking, that has left Yee in charge.

But no acting governor in decades, however, has actually attempted to circumvent or countermand actions taken by the elected governor. And Yee said she would not use that power to fill what she said are the 13 vacancies or call the Legislature into special session.

So, what is causing Hobbs to be out-of-state? And Fontes? We have searched around and we can’t find an answer to that question. Still, it seems classy of Yee not to try to appoint anyone overnight—and we doubt logistically it could be done, anyway.

A few quick reactions:

Surely she will go down as the greatest governor of Arizona this week.

We are not experts in the Arizona Constitution, but we are guessing Yee could do quite a bit and is choosing not to. What if, for instance, there was a nuclear bomb that went off in a city? We would guess Yee could manage the response, though we would hope it would be in consultation with Hobbs—assuming Hobbs is capable of it.

Uh, sure. That.

(Does anyone understand what this person is saying?)

In any case, this could be absolutely a nothingburger. Or it could be the start of a much bigger story. At this moment, we have no idea which it will end up being. But stay tuned and maybe pop some popcorn?

Update: Having taken a moment to reflect, we offer an additional theory. Yee and Hobbs are in opposite parties and are presently in a dispute over appointments. Thus, maybe this absence was planned, but they kept the plan from Yee until the last minute because they were afraid Yee would take advantage of the opportunity that this presented. Maybe they figured if they didn’t give her any warning, she wouldn’t have enough time to form any plans.

Otherwise, if she was given a warning, she might have a slew of executive orders ready to go, for instance. She also could have potentially gotten the legislature ready to come back into session if she called them in.

Is that why this seems sudden? We have no idea. But we thought we would toss it out to you, dear reader, for your consideration.

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Las Vegas News Magazine

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