The best-known of her corruption scandals is her move to “privatize” several of Arizona’s prisons. Two of her top staffers were former operatives for Corrections Corporation of America, which gave huge donations to Brewer’s campaign for Governor.
Some readers may recall that Arizona had a couple of escaped convicts who met up with a girlfriend of one of the convicts and went on a multi-state jaunt across the West. Before they were captured, some in the media compared these convicts to Bonnie and Clyde.
What wasn’t as widely reported was that these convicts escaped from a prison that Jan Brewer had “privatized,” and their escape went undiscovered for several hours.
After the officials at the prison discovered the escape, there was a further delay of a couple of hours before the escape was reported to law enforcement authorities, a delay that has never been explained adequately.
The gross incompetence displayed by the people running this prison was the major factor providing the lead time for the escaped prisoners to get far enough away to embark on their joyride.
The same corporation that ran the prison (Corrections Corporation of America) that the convicts escaped from has had numerous problems in states across the country, such as safety problems and understaffing. The public safety of several Western states was put at risk by a Governor who sold herself to the highest bidder and used her office to pay back one of her largest campaign contributors.
Aside from her reputation for corruption, Jan Brewer is probably best known nationally for running away from reporters for most of her re-election campaign (a period of several months). Given her record, it is easy to see why her advisers would tell her that video footage on television of her (literally) running away from reporters would be less damaging than answering questions about her administration.
So here we have a Governor whose very limited national notoriety is that of a corrupt politician who is more obsessed about covering up than Richard Nixon (who never ran from reporters) and George Bush, Jr., (who preferred to have fake “reporters” show up at his “press conferences” to ask “questions”) combined.
That was where Jan Brewer stood nationally among the small percentage of Americans who had ever heard of her, until yesterday.
Jan Brewer published a book, which evidently flopped badly. Therefore, in order to try to gin up sales of her book, she tried to stage a confrontation with President Obama when he arrived in Arizona to give a speech. She waved her finger in the President’s face and attempted to start an argument with the President.
The President, to his credit, decided not to waste time arguing with a fool, and refused to take the bait.
On those few occasions that I have seen Jan Brewer interviewed, I noticed that she is exceptionally rude, and continually interrupted the other people on the panel and often interrupted the moderator. Also, she continuously said things that were blatantly false, which meant she was either a habitual liar or amazingly ignorant. Having met people of her type before, I think that her problem was ignorance.
Now Brewer, having obtained her “15 minutes” of fame, is touring the right wing media circuit (Fox “News,” etc.) claiming that she felt “threatened” by the President and putting in a plug for (surprise!) her book.
Unfortunately for Brewer, her story about feeling “threatened” by the President at the airport is already falling apart. Video of the scene on the tarmac shows clearly that she completely lost her composure, blew up and started wagging her finger in the President’s face. The video shows clearly that she was doing most of the talking, and the President seemed bemused by her tantrum. More problematic for her is the fact that her fellow Republicans who were there are calling her story a lie. Mayor Scott Smith (R) of Mesa, Arizona said the President “was very relaxed” and, in fact, “stayed and had a pleasant conversation” with Smith.
There is, of course, another possibility besides Brewer telling deliberate falsehoods. It could be that Brewer, like the “Tea Party” kook who shot Gabrielle Giffords, has become delusional. If that is the case, it is possible that she actually believes her own lies about what happened at the airport. We have a problem Governor here in Ohio, but right now I don’t think I would trade Governors with Arizona.
Paul Schwietering is a former Democratic state central committeeman. He lives in Union Township.