The Arizona Desert Lamp

Twitter politics hit the regency

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 14 September 2009

While most of us had football on the mind, Student Regent Ross Meyer fired off a pair of rather curious tweets this past Saturday:

Driving to tucson and wondering what #jasonrosepr would say about my chevy truck -he probably thinks I’m qualified to run for ag bc of my new tires!1:42 PM Sep 12th from txt

. . .

#jasonrosepr – sensible leadership and discretion are better characteristics for ag than the wheels one drives. Please tell your candidate this. Lujan has both! 1:44 PM Sep 12th from txt

A bit of background is necessary here. “jasonrosepr” is in fact the Twitter account of Jason Rose, a PR man who is most famous for representing Joe Arpaio (although his network spreads far and wide). He is also representing Andrew Thomas, the Maricopa County attorney who plans on running for attorney general as a Republican in the 2010 elections. Presumably, this is Mr. Rose’s candidate.

‘Lujan’, meanwhile, refers to David Lujan, a Democratic state representative with an exploratory committee in the Attorney General’s race that Meyer mentions in his first tweet.

It’s not entirely clear whether Meyer’s first comment about tires is some sort of political inside joke, or just a weird schoolyard taunt. It is very clear, however, that his second missive is expressing a very clear preference of one candidate over the other.

This political banter comes in the wake of the Associate Athletics Director Steve Kozachik’s improper – if not illegal – use of his position to politically grandstand. Yet while Kozachik could at least posture concern about the local community, Regent Meyer can hardly say that this has no political implications. According to the “general” division of ABOR’s personnel policies:

6-905 Political Activity

Employees may participate in political activity outside their employment, but shall not allow their interest in a particular party candidate, or political issue to affect the objectivity of their teaching or the performance of their regular university duties.

Regent Meyer could certainly argue that a view on an attorney general’s race won’t affect his performance as a regent, but taking potshots at political figures is generally not indicative of a leader willing to compromise with both sides of the aisle. Similarly, a professor might also argue that wearing a Barack Obama shirt in his math class wouldn’t affect his role as a teacher, but generally it has been decided that this is an undesired outcome. Meyer could try and say that this was a personal comment unrelated to his role as regent, but the absence of a separate “ABORStudentRegent” Twitter account and the listing of “regent” under his Bio section seems to belie this case. He could argue that the provisions don’t apply to the regents themselves, but to their employees, an argument that opens the door for outright advocacy and policy stances from the Board.

Are sanctions merited here? Probably not. But it would be nice if student leadership weren’t so blindingly obvious about their political allegiances – even if they aren’t exactly surprising.


One Response

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  1. Renee Schafer Horton said, on 15 September 2009 at 8:41 am

    What I want to know is why Ross was tweeting as he was driving. Grrr. Message to the young regent: 1. Don’t advertise your reckless behavior. 2. Don’t risk cying to send a tweet – do you really want to put the hell that is burying your own child on your parents? 3. Don’t risk the lives of everyone else on the road.
    There, end of don’t text while driving lecture.

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