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VERIFY: Did Katie Hobbs vote against funding Arizona's border strike force?

In TV ad, former DPS director questions her votes on Ducey-created unit when she was in state Senate

PHOENIX — Before running for Arizona governor, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs served four terms in the state Legislature, rising to Democratic leader of the Senate.

We're verifying one claim in a new TV ad, paid for by the Republican Governors Association Arizona PAC, that singles out Hobbs' Senate vote on funding for Gov. Doug Ducey's Border Strike Task Force.

The question:

Did Katie Hobbs vote against Arizona Border Strike Task Force?

Our sources:

  • Arizona Legislature documents

The answer:

Yes, Katie Hobbs did vote against spending money on the border strike force as part of a larger budget vote.

What we found:

The ad is paid for by the Republican Governors Association Arizona PAC (Ducey is co-chair of the RGA).

"The border strike force keeps Arizona safer. I don't understand Katie Hobbs voting against the border strike force," says Frank Milstead, the former Arizona Department of Public Safety director, who was appointed by Ducey.

Back in 2015, in his first year as governor, Ducey created the Border Strike Task Force. It came in response to criticism that he wasn't doing enough to secure the border. 

The new unit was run under Milstead at DPS.

Follow-up reporting on the strike force by the Arizona Republic has documented that much of its enforcement efforts are nowhere near the border, and most of its drug seizures don't involve smuggling or organized crime.

One of the Hobbs votes in question came in May 2018, at the end of the legislative session. It was Hobbs' last session as Democratic Senate leader before running for secretary of state.

RELATED: Candidate profile: Katie Hobbs, Democratic candidate for Arizona Governor

Legislative documents show the Senate was voting on a 91-page bill containing dozens of line items in the $10.3 billion state budget for the coming year.

The Border Strike Task Force accounted for about $8.3 million - 0.08% - of the total budget.

Hobbs and all but one of the other Senate Democrats voted "no" on the entire 2018 state budget.

Hobbs voted "no" on state budgets for the two previous years that also included border strike force funding. Again, the minority Democrats voted along party lines to oppose the entire state budget. 

We can verify that Katie Hobbs, as a state senator, did vote against spending money on the border strike force, as part of a vote opposing the much larger, multibillion-dollar state budget.

As a candidate for governor, Hobbs appeared to embrace the border strike force in a June interview on "Sunday Square Off."

She viewed it as a weapon against drug trafficking.

"The governor created the border strike task force that in reality is a drug interdiction unit," she said.

Hobbs said she would provide support for that role.

RELATED: Why do Arizona's election results take days, not hours?


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