PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate Committee on Director Nominations rejected Gov. Katie Hobbs’ nominee to lead the Department of Housing on Thursday.
After about two hours of discussion and praise for Joan Serviss from housing advocates and military veterans, Republican state Sen. Jake Hoffman said he had alleged evidence of plagiarized materials produced by Serviss while she led a housing nonprofit.
Several Arizona Housing Alliance documents produced by Serviss during the course of more than four years contained lifted paragraphs from publications and media sources, Hoffman said.
“We cannot allow folks who have a questionable professional record of conduct to move forward,” Hoffman said before casting his vote to reject the nominee.
Republican state Sen. T.J. Shope also voted to reject Serviss’ confirmation. Shope said he began the hearing anticipating a smooth hearing until he learned about the allegations.
The Department of Housing is a massive agency that is critical during a time of homelessness. It is expected to allocate more than $200 million dollars of new funds to address the homeless crisis. A recent analysis found the state has a deficit of 270,000 affordable and available homes.
Democrat state Sen. Lela Alston, one of the two votes approving of Serviss, criticized Hoffman’s handling of the hearing, calling it “childish.”
“Director Serviss is broadly supported … Senator Hoffman would do the state well to worry about his own signature, which found its way onto a fake election certificate as part of a slate of fake electors in 2020,” Alston said in a written statement after the hearing.
During his comments, Hoffman was harshly critical of the governor for putting forth the nominee.
A spokesperson for Hobbs said Serviss will remain acting director of the department.
Hobbs' communications office issued a statement, saying in part, “Today, extremists in the Senate made it clear they're more interested in creating a political circus than fairly scrutinizing cabinet nominees... critical stakeholders unanimously recognized Director Serviss' qualifications and expertise.”
Serviss is not the governor's first nominee to be rejected by the committee. Back in February, the committee voted along party lines to reject Hobbs' pick to lead the Arizona Department of Health Services.