Wednesday, August 1, 2018

OPINION SECTION: "Politics and Brotherhood"

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Candidates mentioned in this article are used for illustrative purposes only and no inferences should be drawn from their inclusion. Arizona's Politics has offered all candidates mentioned access to this forum to share their thoughts on the broad themes of this commentary. Although at least one has responded privately, none have yet submitted written thoughts.


"Politics and Brotherhood"
by Dot Hale

Can a candidate for public office be viable today having also been a member of an organization that excludes and targets for violence people of a particular category? Most Americans now take it for granted that if you’re revealed to have worked with the KKK, you can no longer be under consideration for Congress or state legislature. So what do we think about politicians who have been affiliated with sexually violent fraternities?

There are, of course, fraternities built around academic honors as well as disciplinary or intellectual pursuits. Many social fraternities, moreover, sport records that are relatively benign. But others have earned reputations as petri dishes of sexual coercion and assault.

At the same time fraternities are incubators of U.S. political and economic power. According to a recent New York Times report, 74% of members of Congress have been fraternity members, along with 80% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. 100 of the last 158 cabinet members and 40 of the last 47 Supreme Court justices have been members of fraternities. All of this in spite of the fact that only 2% of American men alive now have also belonged to fraternities.

One example of the downside of this trend comes in the form of Don Shooter of Yuma, Arizona, who was forced from the Arizona House of Representatives early in 2018 after five women accused him of sexual harassment. (Since his ejection from the AZ House, Shooter has launched a campaign for a seat in the Arizona Senate for the 13th Legislative District.) In the accounts offered by his accusers from the Arizona legislature, Shooter appears as the very incarnation of a certain predatory male sexuality. According to the report eventually submitted to the Arizona House of Representatives, Shooter would make regular and lewd remarks to his female colleagues, turn up unwontedly at the hotel rooms of these colleagues while on official governmental trips, and comment habitually upon various aspects of their anatomy.[i]

Is it merely coincidental that when Shooter was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California he was a brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon? At the University of Minnesota in 2014, Southern Methodist University in 2013, at North Carolina State University in 2014, at Yale University the same year, again at the University of Minnesota in 2016, the University of Central Arkansas in 2017, and the University of Missouri in 2018—among other incidents nationally and going back much further—Sigma Phi Epsilon has been the target of lawsuits by women who have reported having been the victims of sexual assault. By all these accounts and many others, Sigma Phi foments a culture in which women are treated as vessels for male gratification.

Shooter was involved in none of these cases. Even if he was processing his experience as a Sigma Phi brother as he harassed his colleagues, it seems important to point out that not all members of fraternities do so in this manner. Perhaps the question here concerns whether voters—or for that matter, the media—might consider interrogating candidates who once felt compelled to join fraternities with obnoxious records but who still seem to regard the experience uncritically.

We might ask of such candidates: How do they recall the attitudes of their brothers with regard to women and how did those attitudes affect the climate of the chapter as a whole? How did the experience of living within such an atmosphere shape them as young men? What did it offer them, and in what ways do they now consider its costs in terms of the belief systems it engendered? Most crucially, why should voters be confident that their experience as fraternity members has not left them less prepared to imagine women and women’s experience in a misogynist society?

Many fraternities are more or less explicit about the increased likelihood that its members will rise to elite positions. Indeed one doesn’t have to dig deep for the rhetoric connecting “leadership” to “brotherhood” in fraternal literature (though there is little equivalent in the publications of sororital organizations). Take an account given by David Schapira, currently candidate for the Democratic nomination for Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, who describes his initiation into Lambda Chi Alpha when he transferred to George Washington University in 1998: The thing about “Lambda Chis at GW,” he muses in a cover story published in a 2012 issue of the LCA publication Cross & Crescent, was “that the brothers were really the leaders on and off campus. They were active in student government and in politics, and that was very attractive to me.”[ii]

The last point concerning Schapira’s attraction to politics has become obvious to Arizonans in the years since—Schapira campaigned for and won a seat in the Arizona legislature and the Tempe City Council, and he also waged and lost a campaign to represent Arizona’s 9th district in Congress. But what does a reasonably woke observer today make of the other end of Schapira’s language of political leadership with its emphasis on “brothers” and “brotherhood”? Reminiscing over the advice given him by fellow Lambda Chi member Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, Schapira recalled that “he started the next part of the conversation with the word ‘brother.’ He said, “brother let me tell that there will be times in this campaign when things will get hard. There will be times when you won’t get home until 3 o’clock in the morning. Your staff hates you. Your wife isn’t happy with you. Your kids may not recognize you. [...] At that time when you don’t think that there’s anyone else to call, call me.”[iii]

It’s a stark rendition of the power of fraternal connection, as Schapira’s particular focus on the word “brother,” isolated in his memory from all the others, would indicate. When the wife, like the staff, doesn’t understand, call a brother. You can depend on a brother to be there when others let you down. What is the connection between that fraternal view of the world and the sexual violence pervading fraternities in the United States? And given the significant influence of fraternities upon U.S. political structures, how do such factors connect our governmental system with the sexist energies that also define much fraternal experience?

Schapira’s frat, Lambda Chi Alpha, offers yet another example of the wider trend of sexual violence inherent in so much collegiate Greek culture. It would take too much space here to document the full range of crimes Lambda Chi members have committed upon women in the years since Schapira pledged, but a few instances from only the past decade provide an apt sample set. In 2009, the University of Southern California suspended its Lambda Chi Alpha Chapter after three women reported they had been assaulted at a Lambda Chi party[iv]; in 2013, a woman was raped in her Kansas University dormitory by brothers also after a Lambda Chi Alpha party. (In that case KU required the perpetrator, after he confessed, to write an essay on the dangers of alcohol and sex.[v]) In 2016, a sixteen-year-old girl filed suit against both her attacker and Lambda Chi Alpha for her rape during an overnight recruiting visit to Culver-Stockton College[vi]; in 2017, a woman at the University of Memphis was raped on two separate occasions by Lambda Chi brothers[vii]; in September of that year a Lambda Chi brother at the University of Arkansas surreptitiously photographed a woman having sex with another Lambda Chi brother and then published the images online.[viii] (The incident resonated with a 2002 episode in which a Lambda Chi brother at Texas A&M University confessed to videotaping himself having sex with a female student, without her knowledge, then exhibiting the tape to Lambda Chi brothers[ix]). Also in 2017, the national organization revoked the charter of its Michigan State University chapter after a brother committed sexual assault upon a female MSU student and came under Title IX investigation[x]; and this year, Lambda Chi brothers at California Polytechnic held a blackface party, flashing mock gang signs for the photos they Facebooked, and captioning an image of one woman who joined in [also in blackface]: “She want a gangsta not a pretty boy.”[xi]

Lambda Chi pledges at Northern Illinois University were once instructed not to form close relationships with women—perhaps still are. In a 2003 interview with the Northern Star of Northern Illinois University, one former pledge explains that “Having a girlfriend or doing anything that included people not affiliated with Lambda Chi was frowned upon.”[xii] This discouragement of close connections with women fits well with the message Schapira recalls having received from Cleland, who had gently suggested that all relationships beyond the brotherly are secondary, unreal, ephemeral, untrustworthy.

None of which is to imply that Schapira, Shooter, or other political candidates who were members of fraternities are guilty by association of the crimes committed by their “brothers.” Still, one might expect some form of comment from such candidates who have belonged to such organizations but who claim to understand, respect, and value women. This is especially important in Schapira’s case, as the Superintendent of Public Instruction oversees a workforce of about 50,000 teachers, 78% of whom are female.[xiii]

Such considerations might also reflect upon the candidacy of Governor Doug Ducey, who in 2014 tweeted about his membership in Pi Kappa Alpha (commonly known as Pike) but who seems oblivious to the long record of sexual abuse involving Pikes.[xiv] Indeed in 2015, a Pike chapter president at Utah State was charged with forcible sexual abuse after assaulting a woman who had passed out at a Pike party; the year after that, the Louisiana State chapter was placed on voluntary suspension after a woman brought charges against Pike after having been raped at a party. And of course, Ducey is one of so very many Pikes turned politicians. Pi Kappa Alpha members include Charles Andrews, Senator of Florida; Everett Dirksen, Senator of Illinois; Leo Hoegh 33th Governor of Iowa, Karl Rove; Strom Thurmond; Brian Zahra, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court; William Dixon, Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court; U.S. Representatives from Montana, Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, and Indiana; as well as cabinet members, Lieutenant Governors, and ambassadors. The influence Pike wields over U.S. legislation, jurisprudence, and executive function is considerable, and at least according to Governor Ducey himself, includes his own administration. Does it matter that this fraternity has formed such a dangerous space for women?

This year the #MeToo movement has focused attention upon the extent to which male political, economic, or cultural power is deployed regularly in order to coerce women sexually. Given the profound continuum between fraternal culture and U.S. electoral politics, candidates for office who are the products of the connection ought to clarify the ways in which their own experience of brotherhood doesn’t present obstacles for their governmental service in an inclusive society.


Dot Hale is a former journalist from Macomb, Illinois who is writing a book about higher ed and political life. She is unassociated with the campaigns of Don Shooter, Doug Ducey, David Schapira, or their opponents.






[i] Report on Rep. Donald Shooter to J.D. Mesnard, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Sherman & Howard L.L.C., 2018: 7-11, 17-18, 20-21.
[ii] “Bridge Builders,” Cross & Crescent, May 2012, 17.
[iii] “Bridge Builders,” 18.
[iv] “USC fraternity suspended after alleged sexual assault,” L.A. Times, April 17, 2009.
[v] “Campus Sexual Violence A Problem Nationwide and In Our Own Backyard,” KCUR, October 21, 2014.21, 201
[vi] “Suit alleges visiting teen sexually assaulted at college in Canton, Mo.,” St. Louis News-Dispatch, February 16, 2016.
[vii] “Student Raped Twice in Twenty Days,” Daily Helmsman. University of Memphis, October 10, 2017.
[viii] “UA fraternity sued over shared photos,” Arkansas Online, University of Arkansas, February 25, 2018.
[ix] “Around the Nation,” GW Hatchet (Nov. 11 2002).
[x] “Lambda Chi not removed by MSU despite investigation,” The State News. Michigan State University, February 17, 2017.
[xi] “Fraternity Hosts ‘Multicultural’ Party With Members in Blackface And Gang Costumes,”
[xii] “Fraternal News,” Northern Star. Northern Illinois University, July 16 2003. Refinery29, April 12, 2018.
[xiii] Arizona Department of Education, “Annual Report of the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction”; National Center for Educational Statistics, “School and Staffing Survey,” 2011-12. https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass1112_2013314_t1s_002.asp Accessed June 25 2018.
[xiv] “More fun with social media: Doug Ducey boasts about his fraternity affiliation. Maybe he shouldn’t have.” Blog For Arizona (April 10 2014). http://blogforarizona.net/more-fun-with-social-media-doug-ducey-boasts-about-his-college-fraternity-affiliation-maybe-he-shouldnt-have. Accessed 20 July 2018.


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Thursday, July 26, 2018

BREAKING, READ: Today's Status Report On Federal Government's Efforts To Reunify Separated Children



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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

READ: Arizona's Biggs, Gosar Co-Sponsor Impeachment Articles Against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein For "Obstruction"

Arizona Congressmen Andy Biggs (R-CD5) and Paul Gosar (R-CD4) joined nine other Freedom Caucus members today in co-sponsoring Articles of Impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Rosenstein has been overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as a result of AG Jeff Sessions' recusal from the matter. Gosar, Biggs and the other co-sponsors accuse Rosenstein of "obstruction" of their requests for information about the probe.

Here are the proposed Articles of Impeachment, followed by quotes from Biggs and Gosar:




Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): “Congress gave Mr. Rosenstein plenty of time to comply with our requests. We have been reasonable and up front with him. Unfortunately, at almost every opportunity, Mr. Rosenstein has resisted and defied Congress’s constitutional oversight. His time to obstruct our investigations has expired. Mr. Rosenstein’s Department is subject to constitutional checks and balances. I call on my colleagues to assert our constitutional responsibility and approve these articles of impeachment.”
Rep. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R-AZ): “It’s time to stop letting unelected bureaucrats rule over the people’s house. Rod Rosenstein has repeatedly failed to deliver requested documents, ignored subpoenas and ultimately stonewalled Congress. His obstruction and reckless actions have completely undermined the American people. In order to restore the power to the people, we must impeach Rod Rosenstein. I will continue to fight to shine a light on the facts and ensure power is restored to the American people.”

Biggs acknowledge on (fmr. Arizona GOP Chair Robert Graham's radio show this afternoon that they might not have the votes from fellow GOP Representatives to get the measure out of Committee and almost surely do not have the votes among the GOP majority.

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BREAKING, UPDATE: ACLU Doubles 1st-In-Nation Effort In Arizona Senate Race; Spends $400k More On TV Ad

The American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") filed a report today indicating that it has spent more than $400,000 on airing a television ad decrying the "anti-immigrant bandwagon" that Arizona's three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are riding. That brings their effort to $726,772 in Arizona - the first federal race that the organization has become involved in.

Arizona's Politics previously reported on the ACLU's campaign - which it takes pains to emphasize is about the civil liberties positions of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is running fo the seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and the ACLU's ads say that his primary opponents - Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD9) and Dr. Kelli Ward - have joined him on that bandwagon.

The new FEC filing indicates that $345,000 is being spent on airtime with production costs estimated to be more than $55,000. This is the first time that the ACLU has filed an independent expenditure report for monies spent on a federal election.



Steve Kilar, the Communications Director for the Arizona Chapter of the ACLU, tells Arizona's Politics that a key motivation for this effort is outreach. "We believe that this critical election, which has the potential to help turn the tide for civil liberties, is one that will motivate people to join the ACLU and vote like their rights depend on it," Kilar said.

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UPDATE: APS Group Now Says 20,000 Clean Energy Signatures Were Collected By Felons (READ)

An Arizona Public Service (APS)-funded group has supplemented its court challenge to the Clean Energy ballot initiative to indicate that more than 20,000 signatures were invalidly collected by circulators with felony convictions*.

The Supplement was filed with the Superior Court on Friday, one day after the initial Complaint was filed which noted that only 168 such signatures were turned in.  That was significant because Arizonans for Affordable Electricity (the utility-funded group) spent considerable resources urging people not to sign the petition because persons with felonies had been registered to circulate the petition.

Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley will consider arguments this coming Monday about how to proceed on AAE's legal challenge. County Recorders from around the state have objected to Plaintiffs' discovery requests forcing them to check some 370,000 challenged signatures in addition to the 5% random sample validity check required under Arizona law.



*without civil rights restored

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

BREAKING, READ: Arizona Chamber Files Court Challenge Vs. Invest In Ed Initiative

(This is a breaking story. More details will be presented shortly.)

A committee sponsored by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce today filed a court challenge against the Invest In Ed ballot initiative. The complaint claims that the petition was false and misleading and that petition circulators did not properly indicate whether they were being paid to gather signatures.

Because the deadline to file a court challenge against initiative circulators passed last Thursday, the Complaint by Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy -  which lists its sponsoring organization as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce - focuses on the language presented on the face of the petitions.

The group makes two allegations that it believes warrants striking the initiative from the November ballot. First, that Invest In Ed does not disclose that its measure would repeal a law regarding indexing of tax brackets, and that all Arizona taxpayers will thus see a tax increase. Second, AGSSE notes that the initiative description states that tax rates would increase by 3.46% and 4.46% on high income-earners top tax brackets when it should have stated the percentage of the increase (76.21% and 98.24%).

The Chair of the challenging group, Jaime Molera, states that "The drafters of this initiative were either sloppy or deceptive.”

The Complaint also challenges the petition sheets on the basis that they were pre-printed with a check mark indicating that the circulator of that sheet was either "paid" or "volunteer". With new statutes changing how paid petition circulators may be compensated, the Secretary of State's Office issued some guidance on how those suddenly-confusing boxes should be handled.


(Arizona's Politics is seeking comment from the initiative backers, and will update as available.)



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Monday, July 23, 2018

BREAKING, WATCH: ACLU Spends $300K In Arizona On Senate Race; 1st ACLU IE In the Nation Targets Arpaio's, The GOP's "Anti-Immigrant Bandwagon"

The American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") today began a $300,000 campaign in Arizona to fight what it calls the "Anti-Immigrant Bandwagon" being led by the Republicans' three contenders for Sen. Jeff Flake's seat.

The effort is the first of its kind in the nation by the ACLU, and they go out of their way to emphasize that "we do not endorse or oppose candidates." Rather, it is "opposition to one or more of the positions of the candidates identified on critical civil liberties issues."

The ads and the canvassing handouts focus on former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - a familiar foe for the ACLU. But, it also mentions Arpaio's primary opponents Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) and Kelli Ward as joining "Arpaio's anti-immigrant bandwagon".

In addition to the TV ads running in Phoenix and Tucson in both English and Spanish, and on digital platforms, the ACLU is phone banking and doing door-to-door canvasses up until the August 28 primary election date.

Alessandra Soler, the executive director of ACLU of Arizona said “We are putting candidates like Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by the president and praised by the governor, on notice that voters are paying attention and will not ignore a history of civil rights abuses. Arpaio terrorized the Latino community in Maricopa County for years, tearing families apart with neighborhood sweeps that violated the rights of many people."

And, ACLU of Arizona's Communications Director Steve Kilar added to Arizona's Politics that "we believe that this critical election, which has the potential to help turn the tide for civil liberties, is one that will motivate people to join the ACLU and vote like their rights depend on it."*

(Here is a link to the canvassing handouts.)







*Of course, in an Arizona Republican primary, saying that the ACLU is opposed to someone could actually be to that candidate's benefit.

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BREAKING: Aug. 20 Trial Date On Challenge of Clean Energy Initiative; Arizona Counties Say "This Is Pandemonium"

The APS-led court challenge to the Clean Energy ballot initiative has been tentatively set for trial on August 20, while Arizona's County Recorders were united in warning the Maricopa County Superior Court Judge that the plaintiffs' case will cause "pandemonium" across the state.

On Thursday, Arizonans for Affordable Energy has challenged the validity of 78% of the 480,000 signatures turned in earlier this month and argue that it should not be placed on the November ballot. The group indicated in court today that they intend to force County Recorders to check the hundreds of thousands of signatures they contend are bad.

County Recorders told Judge Daniel Kiley that checking all of those signatures while also checking the 5% sample required under state law would be "not only unduly burdensome but completely impossible." That was the warning from Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Colleen Connor, and was echoed by several other counties.

Arguing for the plaintiffs, Brett Johnson indicated that the statutes do not make the 5% sampling procedure as "the exclusive process", and that a private challenge is permitted under a separate section (A.R.S. § 19-122(C)). On that basis, he intends to submit discovery requests on the counties to check the challenged signatures before the trial.

Judge Kiley will hear the counties' objections - and, other legal arguments - one week from today. 


To read the Complaint and more, click here for Thursday's article.

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