19 Oct PRESS CONFERENCE STATEMENT
Thank you for your attendance this afternoon at the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association Offices. I am proud of the support and endorsement I have received in the past and for this current election from members of PLEA and the constituent associations of the Arizona Police Association.
I’ve called this press conference to highlight and bring to the public’s attention an effort to influence the Maricopa County Attorney’s race by out of state billionaire George Soros who has no idea how our criminal justice system actually works in Arizona or how I have led my office over the course of the last six years. Unfortunately, this latest foray into another state’s elections is not the first by Soros. But, by highlighting the misguided nature of the effort, it should discourage or, at a minimum, arm other jurisdictions with forewarning of this scheme should it happen again.
Maricopa County is where Billionaire George Soros’ plans to buy the American criminal justice system one prosecutor at a time will be defeated. He has been working his way across the country spending millions in elected prosecutor races in states he does not live in and has no apparent connection with. As noted by Scott Bland in Politico in August of this year, Billionaire Soros has injected his money into races in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas through groups named Safety and Justice or something close to that. A similar group has just formed in Ohio. Soros’ group spent $1.4 million in an Orlando metro race, $930,000 in a jurisdiction surrounding Shreveport, LA, and has spent $500,000 so far in the Harris County, Texas DA’s race.
Last week, he landed in Maricopa County, dumping $400,000 into the race for Maricopa County Attorney. Estimates are he may spend as much as $1.2 million.
I will not bow to Billionaire Soros nor allow him to undermine what we have done to improve our community. Crime rates are at historic lows, we have a community focus on relationships between neighborhoods, police, and prosecutors. We offer rehabilitation for first time offenders, treatment for those struggling with substance abuse, and we unapologetically send violent criminals and repeat felons to prison. In fact, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is nationally recognized for innovations in community-based prosecution, use of technology, and focus on data-driven strategies and policies. We’ve hosted a nation-wide conference on the nature and role of prosecutors in officer involved shootings and our protocols are forming the basis for reviewing what prosecutors should be doing across the country, and next month we will be hosting regional training for prosecutor-led diversion programs like our Felony Pretrial Intervention Program.
This apparently does not match the billionaire’s vision of criminal justice reform and just what does that look like? We only have to look to California and Proposition 47. As the funding chart prepared by the Los Angeles Times shows, Soros funded groups helped push so-called reform in that state and the results are pathetic. BY making drug possession offenses misdemeanors with no consequences for repetitive offenses, drug courts in Los Angeles saw participation in treatment programs drop in half. California saw increases in violent and property crime in 2015 far in excess of national rates. California had 161 more murders, over 1,200 more rapes, more than 4,000 more robberies, and nearly 7,500 more aggravated assaults.
Overall, our crime rate dropped 3.4% in 2015. We haven’t had an overall crime rate this low since 1963. Our murder rate has never been this low going back to 1960 and is below the national murder rate. Property crime has not been this low going back to 1962. Our burglary rate has not been this low going back to 1960 and the same goes for our auto theft rate.
In Arizona, we do not simply jump on any bandwagon adorned with a criminal justice reform banner. We look at data and we assess what type of impact a given program or policy might have on public safety and the offender population. Where we find merit in an idea, we pilot it, study it, and carefully implement it. Not for the sake of claiming we have engaged in reform activity but to make a difference at affording opportunities for offenders to reintegrate into our community, prevent new victims, deter future criminal conduct, and enhance the safety of our entire community.
We distinguish between the substance abuser, the first time offender, the violent criminal, and the habitual offender. If George Soros wants to see what meaningful and productive criminal justice programs and policies look like, he should come here himself instead of just sending his money. More importantly, he should learn the facts first.
While I am confident the record we have built over the last six years will withstand any cynical effort to buy the votes of the people of Maricopa County, I want everyone to know what George Soros has done. I want everyone to know that no matter how much money he spends, I will give no quarter and ask for none when it comes to implementing criminal justice policies that actually work for the people I serve. I will defend our community against any and all efforts to undermine the good work we are committed to and the results we have achieved on behalf of public safety with our law enforcement partners, community leaders and fellow residents of Maricopa County.