The initial news was stunning. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had just signed a campaign finance bill that radically changed the powers of Homeowners Boards and HOA managers. That little contradiction should raise your eyebrows. A campaign finance bill that allows untrained HOA managers to appear in Small Claims and Administrative Law Courts playing like make-believe lawyers on behalf of Homeowners Associations? A Campaign Finance bill that regulates whether Homeowners Associations can have on-street or off-street parking?
The story behind the story is that the Community Associations (CAI) Institute is in every Legislature in the land, constantly lobbying to increase the powers of HOAs, and weaken the Constitutional powers of average citizens. This organization has done a stunning job to radically transform our government. In the process, billions and billions of dollars have been sucked away from homeowners in these gated communities and funneled into the pockets of lawyers, property managers, favored vendors, and in many instances into the pockets of board members themselves. So there’s a steady stream of proposed HOA laws constantly flowing over the desks of confused lawmakers.
Arizona Representative Michelle Ugenti, a cute young thing, thought it would be a great idea to jam all these individual HOA proposals into a single package, House Bill 2371. It was defeated.
Then a few nights ago, while Legislators were debating Senate Bill 1454, the Campaign Finance bill, Michelle Ugenti, the cute young thing, sneakily slipped her failed HOA bill into the Campaign Finance bill which was passed amidst a slurry of other legislation.
Sneaky, underhanded, and exactly the kind of legislative dirty tricks that generate voters’ contempt for lawmakers.
Governor Brewer, faced with a mountain of bills to sign, signed off on the Campaign Finance bill. The process is eerily reminiscent of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comment during the jam-down of the national health care law. “We have to pass the bill so we can all see what’s in it,” Pelosi said. Again, it’s the reason lawmakers are so despised.
The future of this fundamentally dishonest Arizona law is still up in the air for at least a couple of days. It becomes law this Wednesday, June 26th. But in the Arizona Constitution there’s a well-known rule that demands that the major content of a bill be reflected in the bill’s title. There’s nothing in the HOA reform montage even remotely connected with the title of the bill.
Blondie Brewer has every reason and responsibility to veto this bill and order the cute young thing to start being honest with the voters. They’re both Republicans. Brewer should show some leadership.
Not a word from CAI during this whole scam. They’re collectively holding their breath, of course. But if Brewer doesn’t catch on, there’ll be a hundred thousand champagne corks popping.