Gov. Janet Napolitano broke state laws by sending a letter to parents of Arizona schoolchildren that talks about her accomplishments on education, one of her Republican foes claimed Wednesday.
Former state Senate President John Greene said state law specifically prohibits the use of school resources to influence an election. Another provision makes it illegal to give written materials to students that are designed to affect the outcome of an election.
Greene, an announced candidate for governor, asked Årizona Attorney General Terry Goddard to investigate the letter as well as the appearance of Napolitano’s picture on state-funded billboards promoting tourism. Greene said he might sue Napolitano if Goddard — a Democrat like the governor — does not act.
Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer dismissed Greene’s complaint as pure politics, pointing out the delivery and distribution of copies of his investigation request was paid for by his campaign fund.
Napolitano’s letter to parents talks about their importance in education, such as reading a bedtime story or discussing the school day. But Greene said those statements were a cover.
"Arizona’s parents did not need Gov. Napolitano to explain to them the experience of sending a child off to school,’’ Greene said in his complaint. He said the rest of the letter is "clearly a campaigns speech in which the incumbent touts her real and imagined accomplishments.’’
The letter boasts of the "victory’’ in getting state funding for full-day kindergarten programs — an appropriation she fought for over the objection of many Republicans.
Napolitano also promised to "continue to fight for fullday kindergarten until every family has this option in their district or charter school.’’
L’Ecuyer said there was only minimal time spent on producing the school letter, which was sent electronically to school districts. She said it was up to each district to decide whether to distribute the letter.
Some schools did nothing with the letter. Gilbert and Mesa unified school districts posted a link to the letter on their Web sites.