Elizabeth Maier

Elizabeth works for Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, so she was one of the four principle staffers in the first major legislative battle we filmed for the series, the Border Security Bill of 2002. Elizabeth‘s boss was about to join Republican leadership and also had a reputation as one of the most intelligent Senators on the Hill, which meant an extra level of intensity for Elizabeth‘s work.

Over the next few years we shot quite a bit in Arizona, and with Arizonans in Congress, but Elizabeth really introduced us to how complicated the immigration issue is for her state. One day we dropped in on her while she was in the middle of a phone call about hospital funding-- Arizona hospitals were fighting to be reimbursed for the cost of treating undocumented migrants. As one of the smaller border states, compared to California or Texas, Arizona was having a hard time getting those funds-- that piece of the immigration puzzle, and the “small state” concept were new to us.

Later that afternoon Elizabeth wondered how Sen. Kyl would vote on a certain amendment. She said “I like for him to kind of be a lone wolf” -- not someone whose vote is predictable. For whatever reason that comment always stuck with us. The more time we spent shooting in Arizona, getting to know Arizonans like Elizabeth, the more meaningful that line became.

As Senator Kyl rose in leadership, we felt like it became difficult for Elizabeth to keep giving us access. But she was very gentle about closing the door. We finally got the message one day when we were in asking her to film and a slightly crazy one-issue constituent was trying to get to see the Senator. She turned us both away with the same great charm and indirection. We were disappointed, but when you make a documentary series of such complexity and over so long a period, you know that access will wax and wane.

The down side of course was we couldn't do as good a job representing Elizabeth and her Senator in the crucial years 2006 and 2007.

Elizabeth Maier appears in Stories 2 Mountains and Clouds, 4 Sam in the Snow, and 12 The Senators' Bargain | Last Best Chance
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