Judicial Watch, Russell Pearce sue AG for communications with ACLU

Russell Pearce
Russell Pearce

PHOENIX – On Monday, Judicial Watch announced that it, along with former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, filed a lawsuit (CV2016-016945) to obtain records of communications between Arizona Attorney General (AG) Mark Brnovich’s office, the ACLU and other groups challenging Arizona immigration enforcement law SB 1070, which was authored by Pearce.

The lawsuit was filed after the AG’s office failed to respond to the Sept. 20, 2016 request for records under Arizona’s Public Record Law.

Arizona law requires a prompt response to requests for public records.

Although the AG’s office responded by email the same day, acknowledging plaintiffs’ request, no records were ever produced nor did the AG’s office indicate whether or when any responsive records will be furnished.

The records request sought records of communications between the AG’s office, the ACLU and other illegal alien advocacy groups that resulted in a settlement, formalized in an agreement called a “Joint Case Disposition,” of a lawsuit challenging SB 1070.

The records sought included: communications, corresepondence and contacts between the AG’s office and council for plaintiffs in Valle del Sol, et al. v. Whiting, et al. (CV-10-1061-PHX-SRB) concerning or relating to the Joint Case Disposition submitted to the court on Sept. 15, 2016.

The purpose of the request was to shed light on what plaintiffs’ Attorney William T. Luzader of Luzader Law PLLC referred to as an unusual settlement of the SB 1070 case, including an agreement that the AG would issue an “informal opinion” setting forth his “interpretation” of the meaning of certain provisions of SB 1070.

The agreement also provided for $1.4 million in taxpayer money to be paid to the ACLU and other groups.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of SB 1070, other provisions were left to stand, including a provision that allows police officers to ask individuals for proof of immigration status.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated, “The public has a right to know if the Arizona Attorney General outsourced his work to the ACLU and other illegal alien advocates. By stonewalling this request, the Attorney General is thumbing his nose at the rule of law. And we have little doubt that this is all about thwarting any illegal immigration enforcement by a Trump administration.”

Pearce stated, “With this settlement, the Attorney General undermined the rule of law,” and asked, “Why is the Attorney General hiding his communications with illegal alien advocates? Why is the Attorney General negotiating the meaning of duly-enacted laws with the ACLU? When did the citizens of Arizona elect the ACLU as Attorney General?”

After the Valle del Sol case was filed in May 2013, the ACLU went on a fishing expedition, issuing subpoenas against Judicial Watch and numerous conservative organizations and individuals that supported SB 1070, including over 20 current and former members of the Arizona State Legislature, the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA, the American Legislative Exchange Council, nine police associations, the Arizona Republican Party, the Arizona African American Republican Club, the Arizona Republican Assembly and three Arizona senior citizens who had no apparent connection to SB 1070.

The Special Action complaint seeks a court order compelling defendant to immediately furnish copies of the requested public records, an award of damages, costs and attorney’s fees