Meet Arizona’s most recent Governors
and Executed Death Row Convicts
Fact Based Reporting by
Amanda Chen and Rob Roman
These are the 4 most recent Governors of Arizona. Each Governor has a unique way of governing and has different priorities. Their individual agendas affect how executions are carried out.
Besides the higher courts, the Governors are the last chance for a delay in carrying out the death sentence, or a commutation to a life sentence. First, a few days before the sentence is carried out, the prisoner is brought into a special cage in a hearing room for the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.
Five citizens selected by a Governor will review the prisoner’s case, listen to prosecution and defense attorneys, listen to witnesses and hear the opinion of others who wish to speak for or against the prisoner.
If the five board members agree that the death sentence should not be executed, they make a recommendation to the Governor. Then, it’s the Governor’s decision to accept or reject the recommendation. It seems that on this board, there would be a minister, someone from law enforcement, a former judge, and people of this sort. The Arizona board is stacked with former law enforcement types, and people who have political ambitions or obligations.
(7 years in office – 8 prisoners executed)
“Symington was sworn into office on March 6, 1991. During his first term, the governor was the subject of an investigation over his involvement with Southwest Savings and Loan, a failed Phoenix thrift bank. He was later cleared, and won reelection handily in 1994.”
In November, 1995, Symington’s chest may have been swelling with pride. His own party had shut down the government over a budget battle. He may have been humored and excited at the prospect that the Federal Government was forced to close many of its functions. This self-satisfaction turned to alarm when he realized that the world-famous Grand Canyon, an Arizona tourist hotspot, had been closed. Political pressure mounted and Symington sprang into action.
Symington demanded that the Grand Canyon be opened immediately. He declared he would take the Arizona National Guard to the Park and open it personally by force, if necessary. The Pentagon contacted him and told him they would federalize the Arizona armed forces if he tried it. Symington defiantly marched to the Grand CanyonNational Park, but he only took a few unarmed soldiers. His defiance was downgraded to beating on the locked gates for the news cameras in a staged protest.
Symington was later indicted on charges of extortion and making false financial statements. In 1997, he was convicted of bank fraud. Arizona state law does not allow convicted felons to hold office, so Symington resigned his office in September, 1997.
The conviction was overturned in 1999 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There was a dispute about whether a dismissed juror who insisted on voting not guilty was refusing to deliberate or simply refusing to change his vote.
“Symington attended the prestigious Gilman School in Baltimore, then attended Harvard University, graduating in 1968 with a degree in Dutch art history. He served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War, stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Maricopa County, Arizona. He remained in Arizona and became involved in real estate development, founding his own company, the Symington Company, in 1976.”
Jane D. Hull
(5 years in office – 14 prisoners executed)
“Jane D. Hull entered politics in 1978 by being elected to the Arizona House of Representatives as a Republican. She served for seven terms, including two as Speaker of the House, the first female Speaker in Arizona history.”
“In 1991, while she was Speaker, the Arizona legislature experienced a major political scandal called AZSCAM, which resulted in the resignation or removal of ten members of the House and Senate. As a result, Speaker Hull instituted a number of ethics reforms to re-establish public confidence in the legislature.”
Hull was elected Arizona Secretary of State in 1994. After Governor Fife Symington was forced to resign due to his felony conviction. Hull became governor on September 5, 1997. U.S. Supreme Court Justice andra Day OConnnor, herself a former Arizona legislator, swore her into office. As Secretary of State, Hull was next in line to be Governor should anything prevent the current Governor from fulfilling hus duties. Since Arizona bars convicted felons from holding office, Jane Hull took over as Governor after Fife Symington was convicted.
“Hull won election in her own right in 1998. This was the first time in the history of the United States that all five of the top elected executive offices in one state were held by women.”
“While she was governor, Hull’s relations with home state U.S. Senator John McCain were strained. During the 2000 primary season she endorsed his opponent, Texas Governor George W. Bush, in the Arizona primary. After leaving office, she spent three months in New York City, as a public delegate from the United States to the United Nations General Assembly (2004).”
“Hull graduated from theUniversity of Kansas with a degree in education. She taught elementary school in Kansas”
(6 years in office – 1 prisoner executed)
“Janet Napolitano narrowly won the Aisona gubernatorial election of 2002 with 46 percent of the vote, succeeding Republican Jane Hull and defeating her Republican opponent. In November 2006, Napolitano won the gubernatorial election of 2006, defeating the Republican challenger, Len Munsil, by a nearly 2–1 ratio and becoming the first woman to be re-elected to that office.”
Napolitano vetoed a bill which authorized the police to detain illegal immigrants in Arizona and arrest them for “trespassing (on American soil)”. Napolitano remarked that the bill didn’t place enough responsibility on businesses which continue to hire and employ illegal immigrants and that the bill’s passage would overwhelm law enforcement.
In December, 2008, Barack Obama made Napolitano his nominee for United States Secretary of Homeland Security. In January, 2009, Napolitano became the first woman appointed Secretary in the relatively new department. Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer became the governor of Arizona, as the state does not have a lieutenant governor.
The single prisoner executed under Janet Napolitano had murdered two people and had waived his appeals.
“Napolitano graduated from Santa Clara University in California, where she won a Truman Scholarship, and was valedictorian. In 1978, she studied for a term at the London School of Economics. She then received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Virginia School of.”
(5 years in office – 14 prisoners executed)
Governor Brewer is well on her way to beating former Governor Hull’s record of 14 executions during her terms in office. Things slowed down in 2013, due to Supreme Court and Federal court appeals for the next prisoner in line to be executed. There were also issues with the drugs used in the executions. As 2014 will be her final year as Governor due to term restrictions, look for a series of executions in the coming year.
Politically, executions in Arizona are known as “crowd pleasers”.
“Janice Kay “Jan” Brewer is the 22nd Governor of the U.S. state of Arizona, in office since 2009. A member of the Republican Party, Brewer is the fourth woman, and third consecutive woman, to serve as Governor of Arizona.”
Jan Brewer famously stuck her finger in the face of President Obama at the airport when he came for a visit. Ironically, Jan Brewer may never have been Governor of Arizona were it not for President Obama. Brewer was Secretary of State at the time Obama recruited then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to become head of Department of Homeland Security. The next person in line is the Secretary of State. So Brewer became Governor by default.
“On April 23, 2010, Brewer signed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, otherwise known as Arizona SB1070, into law, making it “a state crime for illegal immigrants to not have an alien registration document,” and requiring police “to question people about their immigration status if there is reason.””
Of course the “reason” to detain people and request documentation from citizens was reasoned to be having a Spanish surname or having a certain skin color, resulting in various class-action and Federal lawsuits.
Illegal immigrants would be encouraged to get out of Arizona by creating incentives for legal citizens to refuse to transport or hire them. No state services would be granted to illegal immigrants. The “Signing of the bill has led to massive demonstrations in Arizona, Washington, D.C. and many other cities across the United States, both for and against the legislation.”
In Arizona, justifying these divisions into first and second class citizens is a political big hit.
“In July 2009, Jan Brewer signed SB 1113, which entitles people in Arizona to carry concealed guns in bars or restaurants as long as they do not consume alcohol. Brewer also signed SB 1168, a measure that bans property owners from prohibiting the storage of firearms in locked vehicles parked on their lots.”
“She signed SB 1243, which allows a person who is threatened to announce they are armed, or display or place their hand on their firearm before the use of deadly force.In April 2010, Brewer signed SB 1108, which removes the licensure requirement for law-abiding citizens who choose to carry a concealed firearm in the state of Arizona.”
Governor Jan Brewer vetoed two bills. One set a mandate that anyone running for President must have proof of U.S. citizenship and the other being a bill which allowed guns on college campuses.Federal law already mandates that a candidate for President must be a natural born U.S. citizen. Arizona doesn’t seem quite ready to have its college campuses teaming with armed twenty year-old students.
Better luck next time. Any laws strengthening and expanding gun rights is a win-win in Arizona.
“In the face of a mounting budget crisis in Arizona, Brewer signed the 2011 legislative budget which eliminates the Arizona variant of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as KidsCare, providing health insurance to uninsured children whose families have low income.”
Other legislation was passed under Jan Brewer to further limit access of poor families and children to health care, saying “We do not have the money…. We are broke.”
“Brewer attended Glendale Community College in Glendale, Arizona, where she received a radiological technologist certificate”, proving that in this wonderful country, you too can become Secretary of State and even Governor of Arizona.
Please See (part 2) of The Executives and the Executed