Finally, Someone Who Dares To Sue Public Universities
Posted On May 3, 2022
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Suing your beloved alma mater is never easy, but that’s exactly what Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich did when he saw Arizona State University abusing its tax-exempt status to let big business avoid paying taxes. With this sleazy tactic, many universities across the country are actually becoming the largest real estate developers in their states. Brnovich also sued the Arizona Board of Regents for increasing tuition by an astronomical 300% within a few years and offering illegal immigrants in-state tuition that was lower than what American citizens attending the school from out-of-state paid. He won the latter part of that lawsuit.
So what did ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents do in response? They filed a 200+ page bar complaint against him. Since the left dominates many state bars, it is now weaponizing them to take down conservative lawyers. This way, they don’t even have to bother presenting their case to a jury and proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; just immediately threaten the person’s livelihood under whatever amorphous system they have handy, tarnishing their honorable reputation and obstructing their accomplishment of anything else.
Two Powerful Law Firms
Represented by two of the biggest, most powerful law firms in the state – Perkins Coie and Snell & Wilmer, whose attorneys are very connected with the state bar and judges – ASU got some lower court judges to throw Brnovich’s lawsuit out. It was easy; the trial court judge was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano. His son was on a full scholarship to the University of Arizona, so obviously the last thing he wanted to do was rule against Arizona’s public university system.
However, the bogus bar complaint didn’t work because it was so bad that even the corrupt, left-wing Arizona Bar dismissed it. And the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the lower court decisions and remanded the lawsuit back to the trial court.
Taxpayers unknowingly funded the sleazy bar complaint. One of the regents who filed the bar complaint, Karrin Taylor-Robson, is running for governor as a Republican, but most conservatives don’t appreciate that and her ties to ASU, so Trump-endorsed Kari Lake is trouncing her and the rest of the competition. Gov. Doug Ducey, who’s been problematic for conservatives, opposed Brnovich on his tuition lawsuit against ASU.
Brnovich ultimately lost half of the tuition lawsuit, when the judge ruled that he didn’t have standing — a typical, often bogus way to discard a lawsuit without having to consider the merits. That judge is married to a man who works at ASU, and their child received a college scholarship to ASU. Of course, the MSM never bothered to report that. But the reality is, the Arizona Constitution says tuition at public higher ed is to be “as nearly free as possible” and if the Attorney General cannot uphold the Constitution, who can?
Brnovich’s hotel lawsuit challenged ASU allowing Omni Hotels & Resorts to rent property from it instead of buying it outright, so no one was paying property taxes. The Arizona State Constitution has a gift clause that prohibits the government from handing over money to business. Brnovich said when he filed the lawsuit, “ABOR shouldn’t be subsidizing out-of-state billionaires. Worst of all, ABOR is depriving K-12 schools and community colleges millions of dollars in property tax revenue that must be made up by other taxpayers by placing the hotel on property tax exempt land.”
The deal also includes other generous benefits for the hotel. ASU is spending $19.5 million constructing a conference center to accompany the hotel, which the university will only be allowed to use seven days a year. Another $30 million will be spent to build a parking structure for the hotel and conference center, of which 275 of the 1,200 spots will go to Omni. Brnovich said this constitutes “a gift of approximately $8 million for spots that the hotel gets exclusive use of and gets to keep revenue from the spaces.”
Most people don’t go after public universities because they have deep pockets from taxpayers, which means facing the most powerful attorneys and public relations firms in the state. And lots of developers love the work they refer to them. Making matters worse, universities often aren’t subject to open records laws or legislative oversight because they conduct their activities through “foundations.” That’s how ASU tried to hide its leases with Omni.
Leading Conservatives in the Fray
Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, referred to Brnovich during an interview as a “brawler” due to his proactive style combating the left as AG. Talk show host Mark Levin, who endorsed Brnovich in Arizona’s U.S. Senate election, said he is one of the few Republicans on offense.
Some leading conservatives are also willing to help take on ASU. Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, who lives in Phoenix, is getting the word out about Brnovich’s lawsuits against ASU. Kirk told Brnovich that ASU filing a bar complaint against him is the “politics of personal destruction,” reminding his listeners that Perkins Coie is a law firm used by Hillary Clinton, Facebook, and Goldman Sachs.
Of course, the lefty MSM has shown little interest in covering Brnovich’s victories, and the scant coverage doesn’t even make it sound like a win. He’s prohibited by state bar rules from saying much about it. In contrast, whenever he’s gotten a negative decision from some random court, the MSM has run articles everywhere acting like it’s some huge definitive defeat. And his Republican opponents in the Senate primary race repeat the Democratic talking points about the bar complaint against him. If Brnovich was a Democrat, the MSM would be fawning all over him taking on ASU, since the left loves to rail against big business.
The left controls many aspects of society: the media, big tech, education, Hollywood, and the judiciary and state bars. Brnovich is taking on a hornet’s nest aiming for the collusion between the higher education establishment, the media, and big left-wing firms. But Brnovich has always been a forward thinking conservative; he says the focus should be on holding universities accountable and making tuition lower, not “canceling” debt, which he opposes.