Former Arizona State Senator Rich Crandall, who was removed from office after he took a job as the head of the Wyoming Department of Education, may now be returning to Arizona. On Tuesday, the Wyoming Supreme Court determined that his position in Wyoming is unconstitutional.
The Wyoming Supreme Court found that Wyoming’s law, Senate File 104, was unconstitutional in a 3-2 ruling. The law had been passed by the state’s Legislature at the request of Governor Mead in order to strip powers from state school Superintendent Cindy Hill. That office, one of only five statewide elected positions, included oversight of the Wyoming Department of Education.
Hill was a Tea Party candidate and a thorn in the side of Mead.
Crandall was removed from his senate seat by Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs due to the public’s outrage, when it was revealed by an Arizona Daily Independent reporter and Tucson radio show host James T. Harris of 104-1 The Truth FM, that Crandall pulled up a Uhaul truck to the Arizona Senate Building, packed up all of his belongings, and Tweeted a picture of the truck in front of the Capitol in a mocking farewell to his constituents.
Crandall had attempted to hold onto his senate seat claiming that he needed the insurance coverage for his children. However, according to Arizona officials, Crandall could have vacated his seat so that the people in his Legislative District had representation and maintained his insurance coverage. Only after his constituents became aware of Crandall’s misrepresentations did Biggs remove him.
Crandall told the Star Tribune that he didn’t know what would happen next. According to the KGAB, Crandall said as far as his future is concerned, he can “always go back to his companies in Arizona.”
Crandall’s companies in Arizona contracted with Arizona school districts, while he acted as Chair of the Arizona Senate Education Committee. During his tenure in the Senate, that cozy relationship was a matter of concern for many of his constituents in the state.
According to the Star Tribune, “Crandall said he told the Department of Education staff on Tuesday that when Cindy Hill returns to the department, he hopes everyone acts with class. Crandall said he also can’t give the department employees any assurance that they will keep their jobs, especially the ones that testified against Hill during the Legislature’s Select Investigative Committee hearings earlier this month.”
As part of the attack on Hill, the Legislature began an investigation into her activity as Superintendent. That investigation is ongoing by a Wyoming House panel and includes claims that she misspent funds and was abusive to employees. The panel can recommend impeachment if they determine that she has engaged in wrongdoing. Hill has denied all claims against her.
Hill’s supporters say that the Court’s ruling nullifies Crandall’s job. They claim that he has absolutely no authority to meet with any board or make any decisions.
Hill said she will return to work during a news conference in Cheyenne Tuesday afternoon, according to KGAB. KGAB reported that Hill called Mead’s move against her a “misguided and unfortunate mistake.”
“But now it is time to return to work and focus on the children of Wyoming,” Hill told KGAB. “I will be returning to the Department of Education and will be resuming my constitutional and statutory duties.”
Hill’s legal counsel, John Masters, told KGAB that Hill had developed a transition plan, and that it was the governor’s task to deal with the current department director.
“I don’t see a role for a director,” Masters told KGAB referring to Crandall’s position. “A director was part of SF 104.”
Crandall is best known in Arizona for threatening a fellow lawmaker after she had discovered Crandall’s daughters tampering with his primary opponents campaign signs.