Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is suggesting President Obama reneged on a commitment to help the state recover from a devastating June 30 wildfire that killed 19 specially trained “Hotshot” firefighters, hinting politics might be involved in the decision.
“I don’t want to believe that . . . but you know, it’s very odd, very strange that it took them this long first of all,” Brewer told local Arizona radio host Mike Broomhead when when asked if the denial of Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to the state was politically motivated. “Normally you file for something like this you get a faster response,” she said.
Brewer said she was going to speak with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), whose state was also turned down by FEMA in 2011 for federal relief after disastrous wildfire season, a move that Perry suggested might be part of a political vendetta. The decision was subsequently reversed.
In statement, Brewer indicated Obama had led her to believe federal aid would be forthcoming.
“In the days after the fire, I appreciated the call I received from President Obama, during which he pledged to support our state during its time of great need,” she said. “I was even more encouraged when Vice President Biden reiterated that commitment at the memorial service for the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots. With today’s denial of the state’s request, Arizonans are left questioning what help they were willing to give.”
Brewer and Obama have had a famously rocky relationship. The two had a heated exchange in January 2012 that allegedly centered a passage in a book by Brewer claiming he was condescending to her during an Oval Office meeting.
FEMA said it denied Arizona’s request for aid because not enough uninsured individuals were victims of the conflagration.
But Brewer noted during the radio interview that the FEMA rejection came just days after Obama visited the state.
“I am so upset and so disturbed, if you will, that they have done this to the people of Arizona two days after he was here,” she said. “He encouraged me that they would get right on it. I just can’t believe it.” She termed his actions “absurd,” saying, “he flies in here and gives his campaign style speech – rah rah rah – flies over to California, and then they just slam down on us.”
After the Obama visit – but before the FEMA decision – Brewer released a statement criticizing Obama for using his time on the ground to promote “more big government programs” and for taking credit for Arizona’s economic progress.
“That credit belongs to the hardworking people of Arizona,” she said.
Brewer has vowed to continue seeking federal aid.