A Democratic lawmaker in Arizona said that Marilyn Quayle, the wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle and the mother of Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) called the state's governor to urge the ousting of the head of Arizona's independent redistricting commission.
State Rep. Matt Heinz (D-Tucson) said that he has heard from three Republican state senators that Mrs. Quayle contacted Gov. Jan Brewer (R). The call came before Brewer made the final decision to call the Republican-controlled state Senate into special session to remove Colleen Coyle Mathis as redistricting commission chairwoman. The commission's draft map placed Ben Quayle into the same district as Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), with much of the territory coming from Schweikert's existing district.
"Marilyn Quayle is the straw that broke the camel's back," Heinz told The Huffington Post. "Isn't it amazing that an upset congressman's mom has this much control?"
Heinz made a similar comment on a Tucson radio program in the days following the Senate vote. Other sources in Arizona confirmed that state political observers have been talking about the possibility of Marilyn Quayle involving herself in the redistricting process to protect her son's seat.
Marilyn Quayle did not return a call for comment left at her husband's office.
Marilyn Quayle met her husband in law school and the two practiced law together prior to his 1976 election to Congress from Indiana. Years later, during his vice presidency under President George H. W. Bush, Mrs. Quayle was involved with breast cancer awareness and disaster relief activities. After the Bush Administration ended, she returned to practicing law with a firm in Indianapolis before the couple moved to Arizona. Dan Quayle is currently the chairman of an investment firm with offices in New York and Scottsdale.
The redistricting commission's attorneys went to the state Supreme Court on Friday in an attempt to overturn the Senate decision. Mathis' attorney had said that she would be fighting her ouster, arguing that Mathis had not been given proper due process by the governor and Senate. Arizona Democrats have deemed the situation "a constitutional crisis."
The Republican members of Arizona's congressional delegation were in contact with Brewer prior to the governor's decision to remove Mathis. Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, confirmed to The Huffington Post earlier this week that the governor did talk with the congressional delegation before making her final decision.
Benson said the congressional delegation had expressed the same concerns as Brewer over the process used by the commission. Brewer has said that she was concerned about the amount of executive sessions used by the commission. She also said that the districts it had settled on were not compact and separated communities of interest. Arizona Democrats have called Brewer and the Senate's actions a partisan power grab. The draft map -- which added one district to the state -- included four Republican-leaning districts, two Democratic-leaning districts and three toss-up seats.
A Republican senate source confirmed to The Huffington Post that members of Congress had contacted state senators prior to the vote and said that the draft map "awakened the delegation." The callers included Ben Quayle, but Marilyn Quayle was not involved in calling senators.
"They have a relationship and know each other fairly well," Heinz said of Mrs. Quayle and Brewer.
UPDATE: 5:34 p.m. -- Ben Quayle's press secretary, Richard Cullen, released a statement late Sunday afternoon in response to the report that Marilyn Quayle had interjected to protect her son's seat.
"This is a lie," Cullen said. "It is irresponsible for Arizona Democrats to spread such nonsense."
Jordan Howard contributed to this report.