Amid a growing dispute with Governor Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Legislature over water issues, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes is adding another grievance to her tab: the Arizona Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
On Saturday, Attorney General Mayes transmitted a letter to Governor Hobbs and the Arizona Legislature, expressing her “alarm concerning what is currently under consideration for the Arizona Fiscal Year 2024 budget.” According to Mayes’ knowledge of the state of budget negotiations at the time, “most state agencies, including executive offices established by the Constitution such as the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, would not receive any new ongoing monies from the state’s General Fund in FY24.”
In her letter, Mayes noted that her office had requested “a 15 percent pay increase equal to $3,864,700 in ongoing General Fund dollars for the DCS Attorney General Special Line Item to protect Arizona’s children;” an appropriation of “$3,014,500 from the General Fund for 18.5 full-time employees in the Criminal Division that are currently funded from a temporary appropriation from our Consumer Protection Revolving Fund (CPRF);” $1,750,000 to backfill that (National Mortgage) Settlement funding with a CPRF appropriation (for 13 employees in the Consumer Protection Section of our Civil Litigation Division);” and another “$2,150,400 from the General Fund to replace this funding (from the Anti-Racketeering Revolving Fund) we will lose (because of recent statutory changes).”
General Mayes explained her reasoning for this letter in a statement issued Monday, writing, “Over the weekend, I expressed my alarm over a budget proposal that ignores vital needs of Arizonans – including much-needed funding for our office to continue to crack down on crime and fraud. Today, we see a budget proposal moving forward that appears to be politically expedient for a few, but wholly inadequate for the majority of people in our state. As I said, I am opposed to any statewide budget proposal that does not adequately fund Arizona’s ability to fight the fentanyl crisis and the drug cartels, protect Arizona’s children and combat elder abuse and consumer fraud.”
The State’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer also challenged the governor and members of the Legislature to come up with the requested funds, saying, “The Legislature and Governor need to go back to work and produce a budget that is in the best interest of all Arizonans. We need a budget that funds essential state services that protect the well-being and safety of all Arizonans. I will continue to fight, especially for our most vulnerable residents, as well as the dedicated, hard-working public servants in the Attorney General’s Office.”
Mayes, however, saved her most contentious declaration for the end of her letter, mentioning the “talk of the Legislature sweeping the authority of the Attorney General to direct funds received through consent judgments against several pharmaceutical companies for their roles in the opioid crisis.” She warned, “Sweeping this authority from the Attorney General would be a breach of the consent judgments, and as Attorney General I will not stand by and allow this to happen. I fully intend to consult with the Legislature as the judgments dictate. Any proposal that contradicts this provision by having the Legislature instead direct how the state funds will be used is not acceptable, and I am prepared to go to court to ensure that the State is able to obtain and properly direct those funds for opioid treatment, prevention and education if warranted.”
“Attorney General Mayes should learn the facts first, and accurately convey those facts in committee hearings, before making demands and threats to sue the Legislature and the Governor over the budget,” tweeted Livingston with a copy of his letter to her in which he points out that the Legislature does in fact have a say in how the funds are used.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
Maricopa County dropped the ball. They botched the election, and there is simply no way for politicians to gaslight their way out of it. After years of fearmongering from the media and the left that election integrity measures would suppress and disenfranchise voters, it turns out no one suppresses and disenfranchises voters quite like politicians and bureaucrats in Maricopa County.
Rather than taking accountability for their failures, they have rubbed their incompetence in the faces of frustrated voters, smugly downplaying their failure and patting themselves on the back, asserting that they made a “remarkable effort.”
All eyes were on this election. Everyone knew it would be contentious, that key races would be close, and that record levels of Republican voters would show up to vote in-person on election day. Given this, one would think election officials would go above and beyond to ensure every minute detail was ironed out so that the election process was beyond reproach.
Instead, within minutes of polls opening at 6 am, reports were coming in that tabulators were not accepting ballots…
Over the weekend, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office advised Maricopa County that it may have violated election law.
According to the attorney general’s office, their Elections Integrity Unit (EIU) received hundreds of substantive complaints concerning Maricopa County’s handling of the election. Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to explain the faulty printer settings, issuance of unlawful information regarding voting “check-out” procedures, and the unlawful mixing of “Door 3” non-tabulated with tabulated ballots by next Monday. At least 17,000 voters across 60 voting locations were impacted by Election Day tabulation issues.
“Arizonans deserve a full report and accounting of the myriad problems that occurred in relation to Maricopa County’s administration of the 2022 General Election,” stated Wright.
According to sworn complaints received by the EIU, printer settings were fine during testing the day before Election Day. Wright asked the county to provide the attorney general’s office with a comprehensive report detailing the voting locations that experienced printer or tabulation issues, the specific issues experienced by each voting location, all issues related to the printers and tabulators that contributed to voting location problems, a log of all changes to the printer settings that includes the identification of the individuals who made the changes, the county’s standards for printer settings, the exact time when the county discovered printer settings were the cause of the widespread vote center failures, and the methods used to remedy the printer settings at each voting location.
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said that the long lines caused by the malfunctioning tabulators weren’t indicative of voter suppression. Rather, Gates said that the long lines were caused by voters’ resistance to dropping off their ballots in “Door 3” slots when the tabulators failed. Gates alluded that Republican Party leadership was to blame for voter aversion to casting a Door 3 ballot.
As the attorney general’s office noted in their letter to the county, Door 3 non-tabulated ballots were unlawfully mixed with tabulated ballots at some voting locations. According to the EIU, at least one election observer witnessed more than 1,700 Door 3 non-tabulated ballots placed in black duffle bags intended to hold tabulated ballots only.
The attorney general’s office added that the law requires the county to reconcile ballots cast against check-ins at voting locations — not at central count. Wright asked the county to provide a statement clarifying whether reconciliation occurred at the voting locations or at central count.
Confusion over whether the county reconciled ballots at voting locations prior to central count likely occurred due to statements by officials. The county made no mention of the reconciliation process when advising voters what happens to Door 3 ballots.
In a later apology to voters, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said that Door 3 ballots were retrieved by election workers at the end of the day and brought to central count. Again, Richer issued this statement without any mention of reconciliation.
Additionally, the attorney general’s office contradicted the county’s assertion that voters could cast a valid ballot after checking into another voting location.
The attorney general’s office asserted that poll workers weren’t trained on executing “check out” procedures — further contradicting county officials’ claims that this was a viable option for voters who desired to cast their ballot at another voting location after checking in to one. EIU reports reflected that voters were required to cast a provisional ballot at the secondary location since “check out” procedures weren’t possible.
The attorney general’s office contended that state law prohibits provisional ballots from being counted when a voter checks in at multiple pollbooks.
The attorney general’s office asked the county to issue a report detailing when and how poll workers were trained in “check out” procedures, the legal basis for “check out” procedures, why the county continued to encourage voters to leave voting locations despite EIU notification that “check out” procedure training wasn’t proper, and all voters provided a provisional ballot due to multiple pollbook check-ins.
The county announced on Sunday that its tabulation efforts are nearly complete. Following this, all 15 counties will complete a canvass of the votes.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has been reached an agreement to provide $400,000 to fund a new radio dispatch system for the Colorado City Police Department in an effort to improve emergency response times along the Arizona / Utah border.
Earlier this year, the Arizona State Legislature appropriated the funds to the AGO via House Bill 2862 for the express purpose of identifying ways to replace the outdated communication system relied on by police, fire, and EMS personnel in Colorado City, its sister city of Hildale, Utah, and surrounding areas of Mohave County.
“Every second counts during an emergency, so law enforcement requires efficient communication technology,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Our office is pleased to work with Colorado City’s police department to help ensure that its officers have the equipment needed to provide the fastest response times for residents of Northern Arizona.” Rep. Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) chaired the House Appropriations Committee which earmarked the funds. It was then up to Brnovich’s staff to work with Colorado City Police Chief Robb Radley to ensure the money is spent as intended no later than June 30, 2023.
“Reliable radio communications are critical to ensure an effective and timely response in emergency situations, especially in rural communities,” said Representative Regina Cobb, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. “I’ve been proud to work with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and his office to help secure this important public safety funding for the Colorado City Police Department.”
Among the provisions of the agreement is that the new radio system must meet at least minimum industry standards. Copies of all quotes, bid proposals, purchase orders, invoices, and receipts must be submitted to the AGO within 30 days of purchase and any excess funds not expended by the deadline must be returned to the AGO.
Radley took over the beleaguered department in August 2019 despite the fact a 2017 federal court order was in effect related to years of corruption, illegal conduct by some officers, and discriminatory services toward non-members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church. The agreement signed earlier this month by Radley signals a major step in his continuing efforts to improve emergency response services to the community.
“The Colorado City Police Department’s police, fire, and EMS communications center are extremely grateful to the State of Arizona, Representative Regina Cobb, the Attorney General’s Office, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the opportunity to further upgrade the center with modern radio communications,” said Radley. “The radio system will ensure first responders have the best opportunity to provide the highest quality of services possible for the residents and visitors of Northern Arizona.”
On Monday, a woman who voted for her dead mother during the 2020 election was sentenced to three years of supervised probation. The sentencing was consistent with other recent convictions of voter fraud this year.
The woman, 56-year-old Krista Michelle Conner of Cochise County, had her voter registration revoked, must pay $890 in fines, and serve 100 hours of community service. Conner submitted the ballot mailed to her mother, Caroline Jeanne Sullivan, who’d died one month before. That crime qualifies as a class 6 felony.
Cochise County Recorder David Stevens told the Arizona Daily Independent that the ballot wasn’t counted because Sullivan’s death was updated in the voter registration system prior to the ballot’s arrival.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office Election Integrity Unit (EIU) handled Conner’s case. The EIU was formed in 2019, and formed an online complaint form in the summer of 2020.
Other recent convictions of voter fraud this year include 70-year-old Marcia Johnson of Lake Havasu City, sentenced to one year probation for casting her dead father’s ballot in the 2018 election; 62-year-old Joseph John Marak of Surprise, sentenced to 30 months of supervised probation for voting as a felon six times since 2016; and 64-year-old Tracey Kay McKee of Scottsdale, sentenced to two years’ probation for voting for her dead mother in the 2020 election.
As AZ Free News reported earlier this month, an election integrity nonprofit recommended that the state clean up its voter rolls and cease no-excuse mail-in ballots to prevent further cases of fraud. Governor Doug Ducey vetoed a bill purging non-citizens and non-Arizonans from voter rolls.
Earlier this year, the Arizona Republican Party sued Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and county recorders to challenge mailed ballots. A Mohave County judge ruled on Monday that no-excuse mail-in voting doesn’t violate the Arizona Constitution.