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Clear conviction of a second kind

May 15, 2018

Political candidates no longer deterred by having a criminal past

Candidates running for political office have typically been expected to keep their noses clean and offer voters a crime-free reputation. Those days seem to be behind us.

Four Republican candidates running for Congress in the 2018 primary election season, including former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe ArpaioIn addition to Arpaio, three other convicted criminals are running for office as Republicans, including former Rep. Michael Grimm in New York, Rep. Greg Gianforte in Montana and recently defeated West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship. , are not only seeking a seat in public office but are wearing their criminal records like a badge of honorDemocrat David Alcorn, who is running for Congress in New Mexico, also has a conviction in his past, but his campaign has sought to distance him from that image.. These candidates are embracing their past and ushering in a new era of unabashed honesty. But will it get them elected?  

To better understand how and why these tainted office-seekers are running, ASU Now turned to Stefanie A. Lindquist, deputy provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Foundation Professor of law and political science at Arizona State University.

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Stefanie A. Lindquist

Q: In the not so distant past, convicted criminals rarely contemplated running for political office. Now we have a rash of them. Why has the tide turned?

Answer: Individuals convicted of a crime have never been disqualified from running for Congress or the presidency; the Constitution only sets qualifications such as age and citizenship. A clean criminal record is not one of those qualifications. The Supreme Court has invalidated laws that attempted to add these qualifications on several occasions. The only exemption to this is Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was intended to disqualify loyal former Confederates from running for office. Since the time of the Adams presidency, members of Congress have been elected even after having been convicted of crimesCongressman Matthew Lyon was reelected to office while in prison for a 1798 conviction under the Sedition Act for having criticized President John Adams.. However, laws governing qualifications for state office do in some cases disqualify those who have been convicted from state-elected office. My home state of Pennsylvania is an example.

Q: Is it the case that felons and convicted criminals might lose their right to vote but can still run for political office?

A: Yes, that can happen in some states. Obviously, it’s very odd. Because some states disenfranchise felons from voting in state and federal elections, it is possible that a felon could run for federal office but not be able to vote for him or herself in the election. This is also conceivable for state office seekers as well.

Q: Do you see the number of people with criminal convictions running for office as a sign that people are more forgiving these days — or does this represent another force at work in our society?

A: Although felons or misdemeanants running for office is not new, the level of polarization in our politics today is high. I believe this is contributing to the phenomenon you identify. We have had polarized politics in the past, but perhaps more than any other time since the Civil War (when polarization over slavery led to secession), the electorate and political elites have reached an extreme level of polarization. This is for a number of reasons, including gerrymandering, geographic sorting, party realignment in the South, and so forth. The resulting "Us vs. Them" mindset is toxic to the Rule of Law, as partisans disbelieve or discount criminal prosecutions initiated by administrations governed by the opposing party.

This should cause alarm for all Americans, since it is an indicator that justice institutions — even though they are bound by extensive procedural protections for defendants charged with crimes — are no longer trusted to enforce the law without bias. Again, history has examples of this, with the Sedition Act a very prominent one from the early days of the Republic, but that doesn’t mean this trend isn’t very worrisome now.  

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU students address health needs of local refugees

~80% of refugees in Arizona live in Maricopa County.
May 15, 2018

Socially conscious ASU students are enacting smart plans to help refugees acclimate through health and education

Roughly 80 percent of the 62,000 refugees who have come to live in Arizona since the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program was established in 1980 reside in Maricopa County. Many have endured violence and years spent in camps lacking basic resources, leaving them with myriad health-care concerns.

At Arizona State University, several socially conscious students are rising to the occasion and addressing this need in their community by providing care for refugees. R.E.A.C.T. and Smiling Eyes, two student-run clinics, aim to give refugees free health-care education and resources. 

“No matter where refugees are, transitioning to a new country and home with little resources is always really difficult, so just being able to provide that for them is our mission,” said Julia Lorence, founding member of R.E.A.C.T. and biomedical sciences undergrad.


After attending Mayo Clinic’s annual conference last September, Lorence was moved to create an organization to help underserved communities. She shared her idea with biochemistry classmate Chance Marostica, who expressed similar aspirations.

Together, the pair presented the concept for R.E.A.C.T. (which stands for refugee education and clinic team) to Professor Lara Ferry, director of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences and faculty adviser to R.E.A.C.T., who was “blown away.”

“They had thought of every detail,” she said. “Their plan was very clever about partnering with nonprofits and medical providers to make sure they were doing everything right. It’s really an amazing example of what our students can do. The whole effort embodies ASU’s mission.”

With Aidan McGirr, Nyla Shah and Ashlee Starr (also pre-health majors at ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences) on board, Lorence and Marostica began establishing relationships with local nonprofits geared toward refugee resettlement.

Working with Gathering Humanity, the students spent much of finals week furnishing West Valley apartments for incoming refugees and created an illustrated flipbook demonstrating basic hygiene and health care to leave in the apartment for them. They also hosted educational workshops on topics like handwashing and exercise.

“The ASU connection has just been marvelous,” said Christina Atwood, director of Gathering Humanity. “I think it’s really bridging a gap.”

Though they were meeting their goal of health-care education, R.E.A.C.T.’s long-term goal was to serve as a fully functioning, free student-run clinic. To do that, they needed experienced clinicians.

As luck would have it, Marostica met Mayo Clinic School of Medicine student Michael Sarvi on a service trip to Nicarauga. Sarvi and a small group of other Mayo Clinic students had recently established their own student outreach group to serve underserved communities.

Realizing they each had something to offer each other — the Mayo students their clinical expertise, and the R.E.A.C.T. undergrads their community connections and manpower — they decided to join forces.

“We’re learning as much from them as they are from us,” Sarvi said.

Right now, R.E.A.C.T. is working on solidifying rapport with the local refugee community and nonprofits, and securing a physical location for the clinic.

“We’re still taking baby steps,” Lorence said.

She and the rest of the group will be completing cultural humility training in May, after which they’ll be submitting R.E.A.C.T. for consideration to ASU’s Changemaker Challenge.

“It’s those little things that I am grateful for at ASU,” she said. “I am so thankful to be offered this platform where you can live out your dreams and passions, and then see new students follow happily and … truly have an impact on the community.”

Smiling Eyes

In 2015, ASU’s Office of Global Social Work was established with Barbara Klimek as its director. Having worked in the field for 25 years focusing on refugee populations, Klimek came to be known as the go-to person for students interested in that type of work.

Since joining ASU, Klimek has made it her mission to promote research, community collaborations and international faculty and student exchange related to refugee-themed social work.

Just last month, students from the School of Social Work collaborated with RICE (Refugee and Immigrant Community for Empowerment) and Arizona Healthcare Outreach to provide a pop-up dental clinic for Phoenix-area refugees after the city expressed to them that there was a need in that area.

“We were well aware that refugees needed dental care, but having the resources to put something together that’s sustainable and effective was a completely different story,” said Clinton Reiswig, a public policy graduate student.

Reiswig and others helped recruit local dentists to provide free or low-cost services. The program that resulted, Smiling Eyes, offers not just services but also the opportunity for refugees to learn new skills. ASU students work to train them in administrative functions for the pop-up clinics, such as scheduling and taking a client’s personal information.

Going forward, the Smiling Eyes pop-up clinics will be offered twice a month on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 3581 W. Northern Ave. #8 in Phoenix.

Other endeavors the Office of Global Social Work has lead in the past few years include the Global Market, a pop-up shop in downtown Phoenix that provides space for female refugee artisans to sell their wares; the Refugee Health Video Project, a series of short orientation videos explaining how to navigate the U.S. health-care system; and Peace and Sustainability Clubs in Nepal, in which students travel to Nepal for one month to help create and maintain peace and sustainability clubs in middle schools.

“I think especially at ASU, students are into what we are saying about it being a modern university oriented toward innovation and solutions to big problems, not only in our local communities but globally,” Klimek said. “They want to get engaged, and [educators] can help by asking them what their passion is and helping them to create projects around that using whatever resources are available to us.”

Top photo: Founding member of R.E.A.C.T. and ASU biomedical sciences undergrad Julia Lorence (left), psychology undergraduate Katherine David and Gathering Humanity volunteer McKinlie Jones (right) pose with furniture and household items in a moving van while working with local nonprofit Gathering Humanity to furnish apartments for refugees newly arrived to the Valley. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now