An Arizona statute governing vacancies in public office does not apply to federal offices and therefore will not affect Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as the Democrat recovers from a gunshot wound, Capitol Media Services reported Tuesday.
The Washington Post first reported about the obscure statute, which holds that a public office shall be deemed vacant if the officeholder does not “discharge the duties of office for the period of three consecutive months.”
But a spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the state’s chief election officer, told Capitol Media Services that the law does not apply to federal offices. The article appeared Tuesday on the Arizona Daily Star’s website.
“A vacancy would have to be declared by the U.S. House, not the state of Arizona,” said Matthew Benson, the spokesman for Bennett.
Paul Bender, the former dean of the Arizona State University College of Law, agreed that it would be up to Congress to determine whether a vacancy exists. He noted that federal courts have limited states’ ability to decide who can serve in federal office. For instance, the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that term limits adopted by Arizona and 22 other states could not be applied to Members of Congress.
Giffords, 40, was shot in the head Jan. 8 in an attack in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people and wounded 13. She is in serious condition at University Medical Center in Tucson.
Doctors have cautioned that her recovery would be long. Neurosurgeons “don’t even close the book on [recovery] for several years,” Dr. Michael Lemole, UMC’s chief neurosurgeon, said the day after the shooting.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, along with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, right, and Annette Tilleman-Dick, left, wife for former Rep. Tom Lanots, D-Calif. Clinton was honored with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize during a ceremony last week at the Cannon House Office Building. Previous winners include the Dalai Lama and Elie Wiesel.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.