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2/28/2014 1:52:00 PM
The political power of the Center for Arizona Policy
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, has put her organization at the forefront of social conservative issues. This is from a demonstration last year in front of an abortion clinic in favor of legislation to allow unannounced inspections, an issue before lawmakers again this year.  (Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer)
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, has put her organization at the forefront of social conservative issues. This is from a demonstration last year in front of an abortion clinic in favor of legislation to allow unannounced inspections, an issue before lawmakers again this year. (Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer)
CAP’s Legislative success stories

Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Despite the gubernatorial veto of legislation billed as promoting religious freedom, the Center for Arizona Policy has a long history of getting lawmakers and governors -- at least Republican governors -- to do what it wants.

It has, however, had somewhat less success in convincing courts of the constitutionality of its legislative successes.

Among the measures it has pushed through the Legislature:

- Providing vouchers of taxpayer money for students to attend private and parochial schools. While an outright voucher plan was struck down by the Arizona Supreme Court, a more limited version has so far survived legal challenges.

- Allowing taxpayers to divert some of what they owe the state to provide scholarships for students to attend private and parochial schools. This was upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.

- Banning abortions at the 20th week of pregnancy. This was voided as illegal by a federal appeals court, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

- Barring Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood's family planning services because it also performs abortions. This was voided as illegal by a federal appeals court, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

- Requiring parental consent for minors before getting an abortion. Courts ruled this enforceable with a provision to allow girls to bypass that mandate with consent of a judge.

- Mandating a 24-hour waiting period between a woman's first visit to a doctor to seek an abortion and when the procedure can be performed.

- Overruling regulations that allowed specially trained nurse practitioners to perform both medical and early-term surgical abortions.

- Enacting a ban on so-called "partial-birth' abortions.

- Allowing certain companies who claim to be "religious employers' to refuse to include birth control coverage in the health insurance they provide to their workers.

- Permitting pharmacists to cite religious reasons for refusing to dispense the "morning-after' pill to prevent pregnancy.

- Pushing through laws that prohibit teachers from doing anything that "portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style' or "suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.'

- Giving heterosexual couples preference in adopting a child over gay couples.

- Repeatedly blocking legislation that said if schools opt to teach sex education that they must do so in a way to provide "medically accurate information.' CAP said the only thing schools should be teaching is abstinence.

- Convincing voters to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage in Arizona as solely between one man and one woman. But that came after CAP was unsuccessful at pushing a broader measure that also would have outlawed civil unions.

- Successfully killing efforts to extend the state's anti-bias laws that now cover things like race, religion and gender to also include sexual orientation.

- Blocking legislation to strength laws against bullying. CAP portrayed the legislation as "agenda-driven propaganda,' saying that gray rights groups "have used the bullying issue in order to gain access to our public schools.'

- Halting measures to allow doctors to assist terminally ill patients in ending their own lives.

- Pushing successful legislation to limit the hours of operation of "adult-oriented businesses' and how far they must be from parks and schools.

- Gaining enactment of laws that bar schools from enacting or enforcing policies that single out religious expression for different treatment. That means a school cannot bar a youngster from wearing jewelry or T-shirts with religious messages unless there is a ban on all jewelry and all clothing with messages.

- Getting lawmakers to overturn a state policy of providing the same benefits it does to married couples to the domestic partners of state employees. This was overturned as unconstitutional by a federal judge, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

- Allowing home-schooled children to participate in interscholastic sports.

- Permitting judges to consider a spouse's criminal conviction when dividing up community assets in a divorce.

- Creating voluntary "covenant' marriages where spouses agree to premarital counseling and new restrictions before they can separate.

- Exempting churches from having to file as political committees when the clergy speaks out about ballot measures.

- Banning the sale of human eggs for cloning research.

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- For years Cathi Herrod and her Center for Arizona Policy have flexed their political muscles and pushed through legislation that represented what she calls "fundamental principles,' often those espoused in the Bible.

She has been able to do this even though her evangelical Christian organization raises no money for political candidates. Nor does it make endorsements.

In fact, set up as a charity, the lobbying group can legally do neither.

And while a firestorm of protest from an ad hoc coalition opposed to SB 1062 and its claimed goals of religious freedom kept it from getting signed by the governor, that veto was the rare exception to the rule. Leaving aside she managed to push it through both the House and Senate, Herrod got the House just this past week to adopt new inspection rules for abortion clinics and tax breaks for churches that lease their space.

All that suggests that any predictions of the organization's demise in the wake of the gubernatorial veto are premature at best -- and perhaps wishful thinking by its foes.

The secret of the organization's strength lies instead in its list of politically active voters of similar leanings -- Herrod won't say how many -- who take advantage of the fact that most Arizonans don't bother to turn out for the primary election where most races are decided. And then CAP makes sure that the legislators who do get elected know they are being watched.

As Senate Majority Whip Adam Driggs notes, it isn't that CAP has that many active followers out of more than 3.2 million registered voters. But the organization has made sure that those followers are high-efficacy voters: They turn out.

"We hear from constituents on all issues,' he said. And Driggs said all calls get attention. But they're not all equal.

"When we hear from registered voters who never miss an election, they get a little more ear than a person who lives in my district who's not even registered to vote.'

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, has seen those efforts pay out when they have been directed against him for not siding with CAP.

"They portray it that if you don't do what they think is right, then you're not right,' he said.

Even with CAP precluded from making endorsements, the organization manages to make its views known to its followers. The key is CAP's voter "guides' published before each election.

Those guides essentially ask every candidate where they stand on a laundry list of CAP issues, ranging from abortion and gay rights to religious displays on public property. More to the point, those guides are made available to the CAP faithful before they go to the polls.

"I think a lot of folks pay attention to those guides,' said Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, a frequent CAP ally. And that, he said, translates to votes.

Herrod said those guides are a powerful tool. Ditto the "action alerts' sent out to members during the session, often shortly before votes on key CAP issues, urging them to immediately call a legislator to be sure they vote the right way.

But she insisted it's not imposing the will of the minority on the majority.

"We support values-based legislation that is supported by a majority of Arizonans,' Herrod said. She said the success of CAP's agenda is because the "vast majority' of popularly elected Legislature shares those same values.

"They support the sanctity of human life, they support marriage being one man and one woman, they support affirming religious liberty,' she said. "So it's not that controversial for most of those members.'

Herrod also disputes any contention that CAP's followers are not representative of the majority of Arizonans. Nor does she accept that younger people are more libertarian in their leanings and more willing to accept things CAP opposes, like access to abortion, casino gaming, legalized use of marijuana and statutorily protected equal rights for gays, including the ability to wed.

"I think that's popular media refrain,' she said. "But if they didn't have the support of the Arizona population, they wouldn't be being elected.'

Political consultant Chuck Coughlin does not dispute the large number of social and religious conservatives at the Capitol, many elected because of CAP.

But Coughlin said Chuck Coughlin said it would be more accurate to say that CAP is successful because it has figured out how to work the political system -- and voter apathy -- to its advantage.

Some of that, he said, is the effectiveness of CAP having "a well-distributed and well-researched voter guide that appeals to an ideological Christian base.' But Coughlin said CAP manages to make the most of that.

A key is that perhaps just five of the state's 30 legislative districts are politically competitive. That means that, for all intents and purposes, the races are decided in the primary.

But Coughlin said his own research shows found that 825,000 people who voted in the last two general elections have never voted in a primary. And that, he said, includes lots of registered Republicans, people who could influence the outcome in many districts and could easily oust more conservative elements.

Coughlin, who advises Republicans, including Gov. Jan Brewer, said the only way around that is to promote civic participation.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, agreed with that assessment. But Howard, whose organization is in many ways the arch nemesis of CAP, was not hopeful that can be done.

"The reality is, most Arizonans are really busy trying to lead their lives,' he said. And absent a single important issue to rouse them, they're not politically connected, leaving the playing field to social conservatives.

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that Herrod's ability to rally the troops and get them to the polls is only part of the reason for her success. But Hamer, whose organization has found itself at odds with social conservatives on issues like SB 1062 and even efforts to scrap the state's new Common Core standards, said much of their ability to elect candidates of their choosing occurs long before election day.

Put simply, he said CAP has figured out something that the business community has not: Money and political donations are not everything.

"A lot of people in the business community are more likely to write a check than to walk door-to-door in 110-degree heat.

And Hamer there may also be something else, a variant on Coughlin's theory of who turns out to vote.

He said it's possible that the Legislature has so many social and religious conservatives not because Herrod manages to get them elected but simply because, like Herrod's activist supporters they are more likely to try to influence public policy by running for office. So when Herrod comes down to lobby, she is in some ways preaching to the choir.

Herrod's ability to have influence at the Capitol has its limits.

While getting her agenda approved by lawmakers normally is no problem, CAP had a long dry spell while Democrat Janet Napolitano was governor.

Herrod did much better when Brewer took office in 2009. But whatever sway she had in the governor's office appears to be gone: Brewer cancelled a scheduled Wednesday afternoon appointment to give Herrod a chance to make her case for signing SB 1062.

That still leaves the question of whether public attitudes are changing -- and whether Herrod and her allies are engaged in a sort of goal-line stance to keep the old ones in place, if not by persuasion then by legislation.

Howard said Herrod plays on the fears of her base.

"The world around them is changing,' he said. "And Cathi leverages their anxiety about that.'

"Certainly, there are many challenges in our culture today,' Herrod said. But she sees that more as a myth, or as she puts it, a "narrative' being pushed by "the popular media.'

"I guess I'm not convinced that most Arizonans, most Americans buy into the popular narrative,' Herrod said. And in any event, Herrod said she can't just sit by and do nothing and "just go along with that.'

"We stand for foundational principles,' she said. "We represent the families out there that are concerned where the culture is going.'

That agenda, Herrod acknowledged, has a basis in the Bible.

"Yes, we are an evangelical Christian organization,' she said. But Herrod said the positions CAP takes are based on more than arguments of what the Bible says and instead based on "sound public policy arguments,' like why children do best raised in a family with a mother and a father.

And while it may be a rear-guard action, Herrod said she sees signs of success.

She pointed out it has been 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. But Herrod said groups like hers have kept arguments about why abortion is bad in the headlines for years and managed to both change some minds and get various restrictions enacted, all of which have kept the procedure from becoming accepted as routine.

"So nothing's inevitable.'

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Center for Arizona Policy’s success rate far from 100%

Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- As the veto of SB 1062 proved, not everything that the Center for Arizona Policy wants gets enacted. But the organization also has sometimes -- though not often -- found itself railing unsuccessfully against legislative support for changes in law.

Consider the decision by Gov. Jane Hull in 2001 to sign a law repealing what she called "archaic' sex laws, many on the books since territorial days, which deal with who can have sex with whom, and how.

Hull said that it was not the government's concern whether people were living in "open and notorious cohabitation,' one of the laws that she said should go away. Nor did she find a compelling reason to keep statutes on the books which ban not only sodomy but -- use your imagination here -- any sexual act not designed to create a baby.

"People should not interpret my signature on this bill as a signal that I condone all the conduct that this bill makes lawful,' Hull said at the time. "But I choose not to judge the conduct of others, even when I know others will judge me for signing this bill.'

Among those judging was Cathi Herrod, then just an attorney and lobbyist for CAP. She said the governor ignored the will of the people.

And Herrod, using a theme that would become a regular CAP staple, said Hull's decision to sign the measure showed "the media campaign of misinformation was successful.'

CAP also was unsuccessful in convincing voters that they should not approve any measure that gave Native American tribes the exclusive right to operate casinos. And the organization, which is opposed to any form of legalized gaming, failed to convince voters to repeal the state Lottery.

CAP also has had no luck in diluting the current merit selection system for choosing judges for the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and superior courts of Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties.

CAP has lobbied for everything from giving the state Senate final approval of nominees to giving the governor who make the final decision more names from which to choose. Among those opposing the effort was former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who had at one time been a state senator and later a judge in the state appellate court.

The organization also has been opposed to Arizona's "no-fault' divorce statutes and supported a longer waiting period before a marriage can be ended, though lawmakers have declined to adopt those changes.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Article comment by: Cap Supporter

It is shameful that Cathi Herrod, who has fought tirelessly for the rights of the unborn child, should be so terribly maligned by the public and media. She has made it her mission to assure parents have the right to choose their child�s education through tax credits. She has worked for a parent�s right to be informed about their child�s health and well-being especially when the physical and emotional repercussions may reach far beyond an unplanned pregnancy. And, yes, she believes in and fights for the Christian definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
Keeping us informed of the changing winds of our time through updates from the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) and their voter guide, Cathi is a champion of the Christian values this country was founded on. The first amendment is for everyone. Yet, when she advocated for religious freedom (not against Gays as portrayed), she was labeled a crazy, right wing homophobe. Through bullying and extortion, agendas have been advanced that are a sin in God�s eyes. The anger and vitriol that is spouted against those who do not fall into line is extraordinary. There are already protections against discrimination in Title VII of the Federal Code. An amendment to an Arizona code reinforcing religious rights does not change that. I have to ask, �Why would anyone want to pay somebody to provide a service for them if that person is doing so under government coercion and against their personal convictions?� Do I really want someone photographing my wedding who doesn�t believe in the veracity of my vows or my joy?
CAP is not the scary group. Scary is what is happening to our country.

Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Article comment by: Cosa Nostra vs James Gang

Differences between ACORN and CAP:

ACORN received over $48 million in federal taxpayer funds between 2005 and 2009. CAP received none.

ACORN employees were caught advising how to break the law. CAP employees were not.

ACORN employees were caught and prosecuted for voter registration fraud. CAP employees were not.

ACORN's private consulting firm, Citizen's Consulting Inc., received $832,000 from Obama's 2008 campaign for 'get out the vote' efforts. CAP did not.

As for the preliminary GAO investigation report cited by 'Ignorance', here's the final report:
Consider both the scope and results relative to the 'rawstory' piece. Note that lack of evidence prompted additional oversight.

Legislation that curtailed ACORN funding was supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

The California investigation that obtained the raw videos and determined they were edited nevertheless agreed the recordings established that ACORN employees were willing to discuss a plan to conduct a prostitution business and some employees made suggestions for disguising profits and avoiding detection by law enforcement.

CAP's lobbying must be watched, but besides their degree of transparency there's no comparison with an organization paid by taxpayers to advise others how to obtain tax-funded benefits.

Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014
Article comment by: Yes, but...

Glad to hear ACORN has cleaned up its act. But it still takes an investigation to determine this, and it still receives government funds. One of the points of this article was that CAP doesn't take state or federal money. It doesn't hand out money either. It simply lobbies for its agenda. That's as separate as church and state can get.

Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014
Article comment by: The legislature is no place for religion ...

Just like the pews are no place for taxes or government.

Respect the separation of church and state and get the CAP the heck out of the statehouse.

We don't need them there causing problems and giving our state more black eye's than it already has.

Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014
Article comment by: Ignorance is bliss to some!

"When a duo of right-wing provocateurs posing as a pimp and prostitute released selectively-edited videos trying to impugn the community activist group ACORN, both Democrats and Republicans condemned the organization.

Congress then voted to cut off federal funding for the group (a decision that was later ruled unconstitutional). Following negative press and Congress’ vote, ACORN effectively disbanded Apr. 1 and reorganized under new names.

But a just-issued report by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed ACORN’s federal funding at the behest of Congress found little grist for the mill for politicians or right-wing bloggers looking to bash the now-defunct advocacy group for the poor.

The 38-page report surveyed over 31 federal agencies, probing how ACORN used federal funds and whether adequate controls on spending existed.

The report found no evidence of fraud, lax oversight or misuse of federal funds."

I like separation of church and state, Christian extremists are no better than the Taliban! If the Christian religion required it we'd all be in burkas!

Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014
Article comment by: What would Jesus say about CAP? Wait! It Doesn't Matter!

Thank the Constitution there is separation of church and state. If these religious zealots want laws that promote their Christian values on everyone else, then the churches they are involved with are political organizations, not churches, and should be treated as such.

What does the bible say about the Christians and churches role in society? Groups like CAP seem to have lost what Christ's real focus was....

"Did Christ or did He not own the clothes that He wore?"

Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014
Article comment by: tomj jone

She a religious wacko that should keep her nose out of everyone else's life. AZ has enough wacko birds as our elected office, ie Melvin, Kavanagh, Reagan and John McCain

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Article comment by: Scary Group Rebuttal

Interesting that one comment centered upon homosexuality as CAP's only target. Actually, the thing CAP is fighting or trying to control that angers me the most is abortion and women's rights. Men have no right to tell the woman what to do. We, yes I am a woman, are not chattel!

The mention of ACORN also made me bristle. They are a scary group too! I guess my biggest concern is that people jump on band wagons and try to tell other people how to live their lives by buying politicians and getting laws passed.

I'll keep my rural lifestyle, my guns, my choice of church if any, my choice of children or not, and my pursuit of personal freedom and individuality. I only fear mob mentalities.

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Article comment by: @ Scary Group

Nonsense. CAP isn't any worse than ACORN. In fact, it's a little better because it's up front about its agenda and objectives. It operates openly through legal channels. It isn't doing anything you couldn't do yourself if you were willing to spend the time and energy to oppose its positions.

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Article comment by: @ Scary Group

Yup, Christians concerned about the welfare of our children are something to be feared.

Meanwhile you celebrate the Homosexual Movement's attempts to redefine society and destroy all meaning of morality!

I'm sure we all look forward to having homosexual behaviors taught and explained to kids in Kindergarten. "Hey Billy, you know that feeling that girls are icky?", says the new-age teacher to your child, "Maybe it really means your a homosexual! There is only one way to find out Billy." "Pay attention to today's new Disney movie about Princess Bob and Prince Charming!"

If you believe the pretense that homosexual behavior is the same as heterosexual behavior, then be prepared for all kinds of new kid's movies where the heroes are homosexuals brave enough to defy convention and profess their confused sexuality to the world. 'Cinder-fella and the 7 homosexual dwarves'

In ten or twenty years we all pay for our apathy towards the homosexual redefinition of what it means to be an American. Marriages will be for any two or three or four people in all manner of combinations. To not redefine ourselves into an "Anything goes, if it feels good do it, Wiccan" world will be considered societal bigotry!

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014
Article comment by: Scary Group

This CAP group is one scary bunch of operators. I might have considered another state of residence had i known they were here. Sounds like that bunch of kooks out of Kansas that protested at Veterans funerals.
Wow, AZ, how do we attract these kind?
Guess the best we can do is vote in primaries and take their power away. Worse than dictators or PETA!

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