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.

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.

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.

Mayes And Mitchell Announce Investigation Into Hobbs’ Alleged “Pay-To-Play” Scheme

Mayes And Mitchell Announce Investigation Into Hobbs’ Alleged “Pay-To-Play” Scheme

By Daniel Stefanski |

Government officials across different jurisdictions are attempting to lay claim to the investigation of the Arizona Governor’s Office over a recent media report that the Hobbs administration may have engaged in an improper, or unethical, or unlawful relationship with an organization receiving taxpayer dollars.

Last week, after her Criminal Division head confirmed the existence of an inquiry, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes transmitted two letters to Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell and Arizona Auditor General Lindsey Perry, over their respective Office’s plans to investigate the Hobbs administration over a recent revelation of alleged impropriety with taxpayer funds from a state agency. Attorney General 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 to Mitchell and Perry followed a communication from State Representative Matt Gress to the Maricopa County Attorney, which informed the Republican prosecutor that “the Auditor General’s Office stands ready to partner with you in getting the facts about this troubling matter [the interconnected web of financial and political relationships between Sunshine Residential Homes, Inc. and Governor Katie Hobbs].” Gress, the chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, told County Attorney Mitchell that “we will allocate the resources the Auditor General needs to help restore what appears to be a major breach of trust in our government.”

After receiving letters from Senator T.J. Shope and Gress, County Attorney Mitchell let them know that her office was “contacted by the Arizona Auditor General asking that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office serve as the prosecution office that will work with them while they conduct an investigation into this matter.”

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.”

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

Arizona Department Of Education Offering Summer Grocery Benefits Program

Arizona Department Of Education Offering Summer Grocery Benefits Program

By Staff Reporter |

Low-income Arizona families can get some relief this summer on their grocery bill, thanks to a federal program organized by the state. 

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and Department of Economic Security (DES) are offering a federal summer grocery benefits program, “SUN Bucks,” to provide grocery money to low-income households. 

These households may receive $120 per eligible child to purchase groceries. 

DES began distributing funds earlier this week to nearly 288,000 children according to a press release. These children were receiving Nutrition and/or Cash Assistance benefits.

The agencies estimate about 600,000 children will benefit from SUN Bucks this summer. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said that the department wanted to ensure continued health and development of students over the summer.

“We are working with the USDA and DES to bring this federal grocery benefits program to Arizona, which is projected to provide additional assistance to over 600,000 students who might not otherwise have the meals they need this summer,” said Horne. 

SUN Bucks may be used at an in-person or online store that accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. These funds must be used within 122 days from the day the benefits are added to the account. Lost or stolen benefits can’t be replaced.

SUN Bucks may be used for fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry, and fish; dairy products; breads and cereals; snack foods and non-alcoholic drinks. They may not be used for hot foods, pet foods, cleaning or household supplies, personal hygiene items, or medicine. 

Eligible families include those participating in the National School Lunch, Breakfast, or Head Start Programs; those who are eligible to receive free or reduced lunches; and those who have received Nutrition, Cash and/or Medical Assistance from July 1, 2023 to July 1, 2024, may receive SUN Bucks assistance. Medical Assistance recipients must be below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

Illegal immigrants may receive SUN Bucks.

Those children not enrolled in a National School Lunch Program participating school must be 6 to 16 years of age between last July and the end of this June, and have participated in one of the following: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid assistance with a reported household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, Migrant Education Program, and foster child.

SUN Bucks go onto the same Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards where families normally receive their other benefits. Those families without an EBT card will receive a new one next month. 

ADE also plans to launch a new application for families to submit a free or reduced-price meal application or alternative income form with their child’s eligible school, which must be on the National School Lunch Program roster. 

For further questions, the SUN Bucks hotline is 833-648-4406. 

SUN Bucks, through the USDA’s Summer Nutrition Programs for Kids, are also offered in conjunction with SUN Meals from local meal sites or SUN Meals To-Go. SUN Meals are available to children aged 18 and under with no application or other information needed.

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