Response to Rep. Thorpe

Dear Rep. Thorpe:
An email that you sent out was forwarded to us. We have copied it with our response below. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us for further clarification.
From: <Bob Thorpe>
Date: Sat, Mar 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM
Subject: Re: Pachyderm Coalition AZ legislative ratings
Greetings:
As a new state legislator, I attended one of the Pachyderm meetings, and haven’t gone back. I am totally unimpressed with the biased, arbitrary way they score our legislators and their bills.
For example:
Rep. David Livingston works in insurance. He authored a bill so that AZ insurance brokers would be in compliance with the rest of the nation regarding continuing education credits. This is important because many brokers sell policies over state lines, and without the CE credits, AZ brokers would no longer be in compliance with the rest of the industry. This bill had absolutely no fiscal impact on the state and our taxpayers, and was requested / wanted by the AZ insurance agents and associations. Livingston was applauded by his industry for this and several other insurance related bills.
For authoring and for voting for his own bill, Pachyderm gave Livingston something like –100 points. Just like me, Livingston is a good, solid fiscal conservative, and Pachyderm’s treatment really shook him up, and angered me.
Pachyderm mistreated Livingston, and has done so to other fiscal conservatives for years, including our Speaker of the House Andy Tobin and Rep. Karen Fann, both from LD-1. I’ve decided not to even care about Pachyderm and their biased rating system, and I hope you’ll do the same.
If you are ever concerned about any of our legislator’s bills or votes, then please take the time to first read the bills, then contact the legislator if you still have questions or concerns about the bill’s purpose.
Please feel free to forward this email.
Warmest regards,
AZ State Representative Bob Thorpe, LD-6
                                   
Arizona Conservative Coalition Response:

We generally welcome feedback from all Republicans – particularly legislators – regarding how we weight the bills in our legislative rating. That is always true when the feedback is provided to us directly rather than sent out to other people in a broadcast email replete with misinformation. We don’t normally respond to such an inaccurate invective, but you have gone out of your way to make a capricious and arbitrary attack with little or no background knowledge.

With respect to Rep. Livingston’s bill, HB2358, we reviewed our negative weight as he had earlier requested. Our research unearthed the following: 
1) Currently there is no continuing education requirement for those insurance agents who have decided to market their services solely within Arizona. 
2) Agents who choose to sell in another state have every opportunity under current law to acquire reciprocity by meeting that state’s continuing education requirements – and each state sets its own standards.  
 3) Even if HB2358 were to become law, Arizona agents would not meet the requirements for all states, and, conversely, Arizona agents already meet the requirements in many states.  
 4) The current continuing education requirements were established in 1998 for the convenience of Arizona insurance agents wishing to do business outside Arizona, not to protect Arizona insurance buyers. 
5) HB 2358 imposes a substantial extra cost of doing business on the Arizona agents who do not sell insurance outside the state because of the additional mandatory government regulation. As is the case with most regulations, HB2358 was designed to serve the interests of those who would benefit by this across-the-board regulation at the expense of their smaller, low-cost competitors.  These extra requirements significantly increase the overhead of Arizona agents who choose to market their services solely within our state. This bill, should it become law, will create either lost profits or higher premiums for Arizona residents. While there is no fiscal impact to the state government, there is a fiscal impact to people in the state. We told Rep. Livingston that if those insurance agents not licensed in other states continued to be exempt from an increased burden of continuing education requirements that they do not need or want, we would take the bill out of our evaluation. He would not do that. So, we kept our (-5) weight on the bill. 
As to your other assertions, you never attended a regular PAChyderm/AZConservative Coalition  meeting. You did attend a complimentary lunch we finance for Republican legislators to allow for feedback on our report. In your case, it appears that our outreach to legislators was a vain attempt to prevent an email like you sent. It is important to note that you did not inform us of your concerns about HB2358 at that complimentary lunch or at any other time prior to this self-serving open letter, and now you have decided “not to care” about our evaluations. We are responding in the hope that you will do a 180ยบ turn and decide to act based on facts and genuinely respect the concerns of conservative Republicans.
The Arizona Conservative Coalition (formerly Pachyderm Coalition) expends much time and energy to solicit feedback from legislators through emails and meetings prior to the public release of our reports as well as continuing communication after each updated weekly report. Many legislators have availed themselves of this opportunity which benefits both them and the citizens of Arizona. We always appreciate their feedback whether we agree with it or not. If we disagree, we offer an explanation and usually offer suggestions for amendments that would make a bill either less negative, removed from our evaluation, or even positive. We also give prime-prime bill sponsors the option of eliminating the negative sponsor weight of a bill by pulling the bill while it is still moving forward in the process to become law.
You are right about one thing, though. Our rating system IS biased. It is biased in favor of limited government, civil rights (ALL civil rights in the Bill of Rights), lower taxes, lower government spending, reduced economic regulation, effective pro-life policies, traditional family values, secure borders, and universal parental choice in education. If any Republican legislator is not biased in favor of these things, shouldn’t Republican voters be informed?
While this certainly qualifies as a disagreement, we did not treat Rep. Livingston in a biased or arbitrary manner. We explained our disagreement with the bill, told him how he could amend it to get it taken off our evaluation, and offered to zero out the sponsor weight if he would pull the bill. He had multiple legitimate choices available to him to avoid a lower score. He chose to continue doing the bidding of a select group of power brokers within his industry. His bill increases regulatory burdens on insurance agents and will ultimately raise costs for Arizonans.
Regarding our alleged mistreatment of other “fiscal conservatives” you mention, we don’t think they need you to speak up for them. Some of those you listed have used our scores in their campaigns. When they have issues with our bill weights, they have brought their concerns to us directly. They can and do take care of themselves and talk to us in a sincere attempt to do the best job possible for their constituents.  For the most part people will recognize your letter for what it is.
We also take issue with the supposition that a bill must be good if “good” conservatives are supporting it. While that may be an indication that a bill is probably good, once the bill is analyzed it stands on its own. If it is not a conservative bill, then those supporting it, whether “conservative” or not, are not acting as conservatives in that particular case. The support by you and many of your “conservative” peers of HB2047 – a bill that will lead to a Washington, DC Obama Administration takeover of our K-12 system curriculum and testing – is a case in point.
The Arizona Conservative Coalition gives legislators the ability to affect their scores by their behavior and communication with us. We go out of our way to avoid blind-siding legislators. To that end, we are the only organization that routinely informs legislators of our scoring in advance of public publication. We are also the only organization that clearly identifies a complete list of the bills we are rating and how we are rating those bills in advance of votes. We are the only organization with a complimentary lunch bi-weekly during session for the sole purpose of providing an opportunity for each legislator to have input into the process. If you don’t like your score, you should explain why the bills we rate negatively should be weighted differently. Alternatively, you should try to amend the bills or vote differently. The legislator scores are based strictly on the bill weights we assign which are then applied to legislator votes.
As to your last statement, we usually expect nothing less from elected officials who market themselves as conservatives when they do not have the core values to live up to their own rhetoric. It has always been easier to attack those who put the light of truth on shortcomings than to walk the talk.  We sincerely hope that your ranking will improve as the session continues, because your constituents deserve consistent conservative representation.

For the Arizona Conservative Coalition

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