Arizona DES Director Emailed Employees Anti-Proposition 205 Opinion Article

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 10:50am

The head of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) sent a message to all of his employees on a state-owned email list with a link to a story with arguments against Proposition 205.

Tim Jeffries used the agency's email to forward an opinion piece by a foe of the measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. That piece said the pro-205 campaign was "very misleading, even dangerous, message, based on bad science and sophistic public deception."

An aide said Jeffries, who gave $500 to the anti-205 campaign, was not available to speak. But she said DES officials regularly circulate articles about current events and that this was "sent for purely informational purposes."

However, Arizona law bars the use of public resources to try to influence elections. Ryan Anderson, press aide to Attorney General Mark Brnovich, said the action raises questions.

"Whether or not an email is a thing of value may remain an inconclusive legal matter. But, at the very least, government officials and their employees should avoid any appearance of a possible inappropriate use of public resource," said Anderson.

Anderson said no decision has been made whether his agency will investigate.

"But that being said, it appears to be a matter that could be addressed for the time being internally between director Jeffries and his boss, (Gov. Doug Ducey)," he said.

Ducey press aide Daniel Scarpinato said Ducey believes electioneering using state resources is unacceptable. But Scarpinato the governor, who also opposes Proposition 205, believes this email, even with its criticism of the ballot measure, does not cross the line.