The essence of personal credibility involves playing by the same rules you expect of others.
That’s easily understood for most of us. We can wrap our brains around the principle of “sauce for the goose.”
In Arizona, it doesn’t always work that way. There seems to be one set of rules for people who are supposed to obey the law and a different set for the people who make the rules.
A good case in point is Arizona House Rep. Paul Mosley, R-Havasu City. Rep. Mosley was pulled over in March by a La Paz County sheriff’s deputy for driving 97 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone on State Route 95. The deputy who pulled him over let the state lawmaker off with just a warning after learning he was a member of the Arizona House of Representatives.
This came after the lawmaker basically told the deputy that the law does not apply to him.
“I was doing 120 earlier,’’ Mosley is seen on body camera footage telling the deputy. “I go 130, 140, 120.’’
Rep. Mosley was playing a get-out-of-jail-free card that is commonly known in Arizona as “legislative immunity.”
Yea, you got it right. The people who actually make the laws don’t necessarily have to obey them.
And it isn’t limited to such things as traffic violations.
For example, while our local city/town councils and school boards in the Verde Valley are required to “conduct the public’s business in public” thanks to Arizona’s Open Meeting Law, the same standard does not apply to lawmakers doing business at the State Capitol.
Why? Because the Arizona Constitution allows the Legislature to enact its own rules.
One set of rules for lawmakers. One set of rules for the rest of us.
Fortunately, there is no trickle-down of this dual standard for elected officials here in the Verde Valley. Over the years, we’ve seen an elected sheriff cited and convicted for failing to come to a full stop and not wearing a shoulder harness. We’ve seen a local mayor arrested and convicted of drunken driving. We’ve seen a local school board member arrested for road rage. None of them had the option of claiming “legislative immunity.”
Gov. Doug Ducey obviously realizes the incident with Rep. Mosley creates an image problem for Arizona. In response, he has done some damage control by directing state police officers to cite -- and if necessary arrest -- lawmakers whose bad driving is more than just simple speeding.
That’s a step in the right direction, but at best it is only a baby step. What Arizona needs is a level playing field between lawmakers and the people who vote them into office.
If the rest of us are supposed to obey the law, that same standard should apply to the people who make our laws.
Sauce for the goose.