Livingston Accuses Mayes Of Conflict Of Interest In Hobbs Pay-To-Play Investigation

Livingston Accuses Mayes Of Conflict Of Interest In Hobbs Pay-To-Play Investigation

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s Attorney General is facing yet another instance of Republican opposition to her desire to sideline Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell in an investigation of the Governor’s Office.

This week, State Representative David Livingston became the latest Arizona official to weigh in on the brewing scandal and investigation over the Governor’s Office’s alleged impropriety with taxpayer dollars, writing a letter to Attorney General Kris Mayes, demanding that she “immediately recuse [herself] from investigating the pay-to pay scandal, which involves substantial donations to both the Arizona Democratic Party and Governor Hobbs’ inaugural fund.”

In his letter, Livingston reminded the state’s top cop that he had previously communicated with her office to “express disappointment with your disposition of my public resources complaint, which alleged that then-Governor-Elect Hobbs misused public resources in violation of A.R.S. S 16-192 by impermissibly funneling 53 contributions to the Arizona Democratic Party through a state website.”

Livingston pointed to Mayes’ handling of this issue, in what he called a “clear conflict of interest in investigating my public resources complaint,” as fuel for his latest transmission to the Attorney General’s Office. He wrote that Mayes’ “conflict of interest and mishandling of my complaint warrants your recusal from investigating the pay-to-play scandal because it likewise stems from Governor Hobbs’ unprecedented inaugural fundraising and political donations to the Arizona Democratic Party.”

The Republican legislator also told Mayes that she “either grossly misunderstand[s] Arizona law or [is] making a desperate attempt to claim jurisdiction over the pay-to-play investigation to protect Governor Hobbs and/or the ADP” with her efforts to shield the Maricopa County Attorney’s and Arizona Auditor General’s Offices from the inquiry. Livingston explained that “it is the county attorney that may refer criminal matters to [the Attorney General’s Office] for investigation by the State Grand Jury if the offenses fall within its jurisdiction,” and that “the Auditor General routinely works with county attorneys to conduct investigations and is statutorily authorized to do so.”

As he concluded his letter, Livingston opined that “if [Mayes] dislike[d] Arizona’s laws or the limits of [her] authority imposed by those laws, you are welcome to advocate for statutory changes through the legislative process. He added a warning, stating that “what you may not do, however, is make false statements about Arizona law to micromanage the conduct of other elected officials and public servants or prevent them from exercising their own powers and duties.”

Livingston’s letter to Mayes comes after letters from two of his Republican colleagues in the State Legislature, Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope and Representative Matt Gress, were sent to Mitchell and Mayes. Shope sent a letter on June 5 to both Mayes and Mitchell, asking both officials to “examine the facts surrounding the Department of Child Safety’s alleged decision to approve a nearly 60% rate increase for Sunshine Residential Homes and determine if conduct by any of the involved parties warrants a criminal or civil investigation.”

Gress followed up with a letter on June 6 to Mitchell, letting her know that “the Auditor General’s Office stands ready to partner with you in getting the facts about this troubling matter,” and that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee “will allocate the resources the Auditor General needs to help restore what appears to be a major breach of trust in our government.”

That day (June 7), Mayes fired off two letters to both Mitchell and the Arizona Auditor General, Lindsey Perry, over the investigation. Mayes told County Attorney Mitchell that “it would not be appropriate or in the best interest of the state to conduct parallel investigations into the same matter,” and that “a separate process conducted by the MCAO could jeopardize the integrity of the criminal investigation that my office will now proceed with.”

Mayes similarly told Auditor General Perry that “while [the Auditor General’s] office is statutorily authorized to examine records and conduct audits at the direction of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, at this time, the assistance of [her] office is not needed by the Attorney General’s Office for our investigation.”

After the letters from Mayes, Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee sent a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, requesting “that [she] investigate the allegations that have occurred in [her] jurisdiction.” Yee also delivered a letter to Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, highlighting the state’s top cop’s recent assertion to the State Auditor General and the Maricopa County Attorney that her office had singular control over any investigation “is not appropriate or authorized by law, as those entities have separate jurisdiction to investigate this matter.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Arizona Treasurer Yee Calls On Mitchell To Investigate Hobbs

Arizona Treasurer Yee Calls On Mitchell To Investigate Hobbs

By Daniel Stefanski |

Another Arizona official has weighed in on the pending investigation of the Governor’s Office.

On Monday, Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee sent a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, requesting “that [she] investigate the allegations that have occurred in [her] jurisdiction.”

With the transmission of the letter, Yee became the latest elected official to insert herself into the discussion about what happened and what to do next with the recent allegations of improper use of state taxpayer dollars from Governor Katie Hobbs’ administration.

Less than a week ago, The Arizona Republic broke a story about the Arizona Department of Child Safety “approv[ing] what amounts to a nearly 60% increase in the rate that Sunshine Residential Homes Inc. charges to care for a child for a day.” The alleged action to approve the rate increase for the one organization was made while “DCS has denied pay increases to home operators and cut loose 16 providers during the contract renewal process.” The Republic also asserted that “no other standard group home provider was approved for any rate increase during Hobbs’ tenure.”

“As the Treasurer of Arizona, I am responsible for overseeing, safekeeping, and managing the State of Arizona’s securities and investments, which are duties I take seriously. Arizona taxpayers need financial accountability and deserve to know how their money is being spent,” said Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. “Providing state dollars to political donors is a grave misuse of public funds. “Pay to play” and special favors have no place in state government.”

The Republican Treasurer also sent a letter to Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, highlighting the state’s top cop’s recent assertion to the State Auditor General and the Maricopa County Attorney that her office had singular control over any investigation “is not appropriate or authorized by law, as those entities have separate jurisdiction to investigate this matter.”

Yee added, “The Attorney General wrongfully asserted that she has singular control over any investigation. I have requested a separate investigation to be conducted by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has separate jurisdiction in this matter and the current investigation by the Attorney General’s Office raises concerns of potential ethical conflicts of interest in representing state agencies and officials involved in the alleged scheme.”

The maneuvering to stake out a claim to investigate the Governor’s Office seemingly began after Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope sent a letter on June 5 to both Mayes and Mitchell, asking both officials to “examine the facts surrounding the Department of Child Safety’s alleged decision to approve a nearly 60% rate increase for Sunshine Residential Homes and determine if conduct by any of the involved parties warrants a criminal or civil investigation.”

State Representative Matt Gress followed up with a letter on June 6 to Mitchell, letting her know that “the Auditor General’s Office stands ready to partner with you in getting the facts about this troubling matter,” and that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee “will allocate the resources the Auditor General needs to help restore what appears to be a major breach of trust in our government.”

That day (June 7), Mayes fired off two letters to both Mitchell and the Arizona Auditor General, Lindsey Perry, over the investigation. Mayes told County Attorney Mitchell that “it would not be appropriate or in the best interest of the state to conduct parallel investigations into the same matter,” and that “a separate process conducted by the MCAO could jeopardize the integrity of the criminal investigation that my office will now proceed with.”

Mayes similarly told Auditor General Perry that “while [the Auditor General’s] office is statutorily authorized to examine records and conduct audits at the direction of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, at this time, the assistance of [her] office is not needed by the Attorney General’s Office for our investigation.”

The letters from Mayes led to the communication from Yee, who will likely not be the last Arizona official to comment on the direction of this pivotal investigation.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Report: City Of Phoenix Spent Over $180 Million Since 2021 To Fix Homelessness With Little Impact

Report: City Of Phoenix Spent Over $180 Million Since 2021 To Fix Homelessness With Little Impact

By Staff Reporter |

Over the last three years, the city of Phoenix spent over $180 million in its attempts to address its growing homeless population.

New research from The Goldwater Institute suggests that the millions had little impact, if any, in reducing the rates of homelessness. The population grew 92 percent in Phoenix from 2018 to 2023, and 72 percent in Maricopa County from 2017 to 2023. Homeless population totals for 2021 weren’t collected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The growth became evident in certain areas, such as the downtown area unofficially ignored by police for most response calls known as “The Zone.” 

The $180 million constitutes a low estimate of total expenditures; when adding in funds from the state, federal government, and private entities considered to be budget line items, that number grows to over $250 million, per their research. 

About one-sixth of those city funds went to the Community Bridges organization — $30 million — which provided property and housing services as well as outreach for shelter support services. 

The other major contracts put up by the city to address homelessness were $16 million for BRYCON, which provided shelter space and general contracting; $13 million for St. Vincent de Paul, which provided emergency shelter, transitional housing, and hotel operations; $9.4 million for Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), which provided housing, shelter, and homeless support services; $9 million for Mercy Care, which provided behavioral health and mental health services; $7 million for Human Services Campus, which provided relief sprung structure for shelter; $6.2 million for Salvation Army, which provided shelter and street outreach; $4.6 million for A New Leaf, which provided rapid rehousing and homeless youth reunification; $4.5 million for UMOM Day Centers, which provided shelter and street outreach; $2.6 million for Steel & Spark, the provider of the X-Wing Shelter Units; $2.3 million for Homeward Bound, which provided homeless prevention efforts such as GED and job training; $2 million for St. Joseph the Worker, which provided workforce villages and paying housing costs; $1.2 million for Child Crisis Arizona, which provided shelter for homeless minors; and $1 million for Southwest Behavioral Health Services, which provided criminal justice for the homeless and outreach. 

Four of the city’s contractors for homeless services — Southwest Behavioral Health, Chicanos Por La Causa, CASS, and Mercy Care — have seats on the city’s task force to address homelessness. 

Per the Goldwater Institute, the city has yet to disburse $63 million for city-owned shelters, emergency rental assistance, property acquisition, hotel conversion, and affordable housing.

The city’s Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) reports that it has committed $140 million since 2021 through the end of this year to address homelessness through shelter and heat relief, outreach, supportive and behavioral health services, homelessness prevention, and supportive housing. 

According to the Goldwater Institute, OHS has only provided public accounting for 34 percent of that $140 million. Additionally, that 34 percent consisted of vague reporting, such as the absence of program start and end dates.

The unrelenting growth in the homeless population, despite expensive efforts to stymie, it has prompted alternative actions from city leaders. Earlier this month, the city council enacted an ordinance banning homeless encampments near parks and schools.

AZ Free News is your #1 source for Arizona news and politics. You can send us news tips using this link.

Lawmakers Confident Border Security Bill Will Survive Court Scrutiny

Lawmakers Confident Border Security Bill Will Survive Court Scrutiny

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s Republican Senate President is confident that a recently passed measure dealing with border security will survive legal scrutiny if passed by state voters in November.

Over the weekend, State Senate President Warren Petersen issued a statement after the Arizona House of Representatives put the finishing touches on a ballot referral, HCR 2060, to help law enforcement better protect citizens from the dangerous effects of the porous border.

Petersen said, “After Biden, our Governor, and Democrat lawmakers blocked all efforts to safeguard our citizens against the rampant crime from the border crisis, we’re relieved to announce the Secure the Border Act officially passed out of the Arizona Legislature this week and will head directly to the November ballot, bypassing the Governor. During the 12 years I’ve served in state office, never has this crisis been as dangerously severe as it is now, costing Arizona taxpayers more than $3 billion in 2023 alone.

The Senate President added, “Soon, Arizona voters will have an opportunity to take matters into their own hands in response to our federal government refusing to do its job. It’s unfortunate radical special interest groups are suing to try to stop our citizens from voting on an issue they consider a top priority.”

The suit that Petersen referenced was filed by Living United for Change in Arizona, which is a nonprofit corporation in the state. Victory PAC and two other qualified electors joined as plaintiffs in the state.

Democrat State Representative Oscar De Los Santos was one of the plaintiffs in the suit. He posted on his “X” account that he had “joined a lawsuit filed by LUCHA AZ challenging the constitutionality of HCR 2060, one of the most racially discriminatory, anti-immigrant pieces of legislation in Arizona history.

Explaining more about the legal challenge, De Los Santos wrote, “We allege that HCR 2060 – which embraces a hodgepodge of numerous and varied policies – violates Arizona’s single-subject rule, a provision of our state’s Constitution which stipulates that any one act must deal with only one issue.”

One of De Los Santos’ colleagues on the other side of the aisle, State Representative Quang Nguyen, countered the Democrats’ perspective, stating, “I’m an immigrant; elected and re-elected as a rep of a rural county; not caucasian; chair of jud; twice selected as an emerging leader nationally. NO, HCR 2060 is not an immigration bill and it is NOT anti-immigrants. It is anti-criminals.”

President Petersen projected confidence in the success of his side’s proposal going before Arizona voters to deal with the border crisis. He said, “We’re confident the Secure the Border Act will survive any scrutiny in court and will be approved by voters.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Mexican Nationals Turned Out The Vote In Phoenix For Mexican Presidential Race

Mexican Nationals Turned Out The Vote In Phoenix For Mexican Presidential Race

By Matthew Holloway |

On Sunday, June 2, authorities estimate that anywhere between two and three thousand Mexican nationals descended upon Phoenix and gathered beneath the scorching Arizona sun to vote. According to the Instituto Nacional Electoral, the Mexican government body charged with organizing the nation’s elections, only approximately 600 of those present at the Mexican Consulate Sunday were able to place their vote. A Spanish language outlet estimated the number to be up to 7,000.

Cuitláhuac Osorio Technical secretary of the Executive Directorate of the Federal Register of Voters of the National Electoral Institute (INE) told Conecta Arizona that the Mexican authorities are evaluating whether in-person voting should continue or if the government should switch to doing so electronically or at additional voting centers in the U.S. to accommodate Mexican nationals who are outside of the country on election day.

“Certainly, we did not foresee such an overwhelming participation, that so many people were going to suddenly appear before a Consulate; Having 2,000 or 3,000 people made the operation difficult for us in terms of being able to organize the lines, the resources and capacities that we had available to serve the citizens within the Consulate,” Osorio said (translated by Google).

In an interview with Maritza L. Félix, director and founder of the outlet, Osorio added, “We did not have that expectation of having that number of people outside the Consulate. It’s part of learning. We will have to evaluate other alternatives: for example, if this in-person modality would have to continue using electronic devices, if we would have to use ballots, if we would have to think about (more) voting centers. Nowadays the legislation does not allow it, that is, we were also limited to making the election within the Consulate. The INE will make a detailed evaluation, with all the recommendations.

Félix noted that likely many of the voters were, “People from New Mexico, from Texas, from northern Arizona, people who perhaps due to their irregular immigration status could not go to their homeland to exercise their right and decided to come to Phoenix.” The Mexican voters arrived as early as 5 AM on June 2nd coming from as far away as El Paso, TX.

“On this election day in which we witnessed there were thousands of people: according to representatives and volunteers of the INE, there were about 7,000 people who could have met at the consular headquarters. People from New Mexico, from Texas, from northern Arizona, people who perhaps due to their irregular immigration status could not go to their homeland to exercise their right and decided to come to Phoenix with the idea that there were 1,500 extra ballots. For example, the majority of people from Sonora who came could only vote for the Senate and the Presidency of the Republic,” Félix explained.

According to the outlet, the total number of Mexican nationals who voted from outside the country was 184,374, an increase of 87% over the previous election in 2018.

Matthew Holloway is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow him on X for his latest stories, or email tips to Matthew@azfreenews.com.

Maricopa County Seeks Warrant For Execution Of Murderer After Mayes And Hobbs Delay

Maricopa County Seeks Warrant For Execution Of Murderer After Mayes And Hobbs Delay

By Daniel Stefanski |

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell is attempting to bring justice for an Arizona victim but is meeting resistance from the state’s attorney general.

Earlier this month, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced that it had “filed a motion with the Arizona Supreme Court in a move to ultimately seek a warrant of execution for Aaron Brian Gunches.”

Gunches has been sentenced to death twice over the murder of the ex-husband of his girlfriend in 2002.

“For nearly two years, we’ve seen delay after delay from the governor and the attorney general,” said Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. “The commissioner’s report was expected at the end of 2023, but it never arrived. In a letter received by my office three weeks ago, I’m now told the report might be complete in early 2025. For almost 22 years, Ted Price’s family has been waiting for justice and closure. They’re not willing to wait any longer and neither am I.”

Attorney General Mayes pushed back against Mitchell’s legal effort, writing, “Only the Attorney General is authorized to seek warrants of execution. Despite what rogue Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell may believe, there is only one Attorney General at a time – and the voters decided who that was 18 months ago. Just three weeks ago, I notified County Attorney Mitchell about my plans for seeking warrants of execution a little over six months from now after the completion of the independent death penalty review. But apparently, conducting this cynical performance to look tough in her competitive re-election primary is more important to the County Attorney than following the law.”

Mayes added, “Make no mistake, I will vigorously defend the authority of this office – and will not stand by as the Maricopa County Attorney attempts to create chaos to save her political career. My office will next move to strike this motion and prevent County Attorney Mitchell from continuing her unauthorized actions related to the death penalty.”

Mitchell disagreed with Mayes’ assessment of her legal limitations in this matter. She said, “I believe that as an attorney who acts on behalf of the state, I also can appropriately ask the Supreme Court for a death warrant. The victims have asserted their rights to finality and seek this office’s assistance in protecting their constitutional rights to a prompt and final conclusion to this case.”

The saga over Gunches execution started in late-2022, when former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the Arizona Supreme Court for a warrant of execution. After the January 2, 2023, transition of power to Katie Hobbs and new Attorney General Kris Mayes, the state desperately attempted to reverse the actions that set Gunches’ execution process into motion. These efforts proved to be unsuccessful, however, when the high court did, in fact, grant the warrant of execution, ordering the state to put Gunches to death on April 6, 2023. The governor refused to comply with the court-issued warrant, stating that the State would not be seeking to carry out the execution at this time. Hobbs’ decision triggered court filings from Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell and Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature.

The Arizona Supreme Court declined to force the State of Arizona to carry out the issued warrant for Gunches but would not withdraw it either. The warrant expired last year, leading to County Attorney Mitchell’s attempt to seek this action before the state’s high court.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.