Oral Arguments in the Petersen v. Hobbs ‘Director Nominations’ Case Delayed Until May 20

After the shenanigans in early 2023 at the “Director’s Nominations” Committee it became clear that Governor Hobbs nominees to lead state agencies wouldn’t be getting a fair shake from the Committee or the Senate.

We posted a blog back then arguing that the Governor should use loopholes in the statute to get her nominees onto more stable ground: Time to Play Hardball with Agency Director Nominations? Here’s a Playbook

Hobbs ended up going with Option 3 from that blog post as outlined in Governor Hobbs Letter to Senate President Petersen. Hobbs first withdrew the 13 nominations of the agency directors that she had previously sent to the Senate.

The statutes about senate confirmation requirements are sufficiently vague and provide loopholes that gave Team Hobbs options to provide stability and governance options. See: 38-211 – Nominations by governor; consent of senate; appointment 

See: Senate committee doesn’t ‘vet’ nominees. It sabotages them

She then appointed a guy named Ben Henderson as the Interim Director for each of the agencies. Mr. Henderson proceeded to name the person who had previously been nominated to be director to the title of Executive Deputy Director.

State Senate President Petersen sued Governor Hobbs in Maricopa County Superior Court a few months ago. Several briefs have been filed by both parties, and Judge Blaney had scheduled the first round of oral arguments in court last week but later delated oral arguments until Monday, May 20: Civil Court Case Information: Petersen v. Hobbs

Maricopa County Superior Court CV2023-019899

My sense is this case will ultimately be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court – so it may be several months to more than a year before we have a final resolution in this important policy matter. However, if the State Senate flips or ends in a 15-15 tie or if Dems take control of the chamber things could change rapidly and the case could end up being dismissed once a new Senate president is sworn in.

Note: The Chair of the Director Nominations Committee, Jake Hoffman, was recently indicted by an Arizona Grand Jury on numerous serious felony charges. Nevertheless, Senate President Hoffman has not removed Hoffman from his Director Nomination and Government Committee perches.

See: Governor Katie Hobbs Pulls Nominees from Partisan Political Circus Created by Extremist Jake Hoffman