By Daniel Stefanski |
Republicans at the Arizona Legislature are looking out for taxpayers’ interests, and one beleaguered group is in their sights.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen sent a surprising and blunt letter to the Executive Director of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), warning that litigation is “reasonably likely” over concerns that NAAG may not be “complying with Arizona public money laws.”
Toma and Petersen outlined some of the justifications for their concerns, including the recent reporting “that NAAG lost at least $37 million last year on a panoply of investments in things like private equity and foreign stocks. The legislative leaders also highlighted the reports “that NAAG utilized assets from public settlements to secretly support ESG-linked investments and to fly Attorneys General and their families on European holidays.”
According to the letter (which pulled from several press reports), “NAAG has amassed over $250 million in assets from public enforcement settlements, which include Arizona public monies.” Toma and Petersen assert that “NAAG is subject to the duties and liabilities set forth under Arizona law for custodians of public moneys, that public monies cannot be appropriated without legislative authorization, and that investments must comply with Arizona law.” Their letter states “it appears that NAAG has been operating outside the lines, and the result is millions in public money lost on ESG investments, foreign stocks, and trips to Europe, while millions still sit in the hands of an unaccountable bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.”
Toma and Petersen write, “The situation is unacceptable and not consistent with Arizona law. It is time that Arizona’s laws and regulations start applying to NAAG and that this unaccountable slush fund activity stop now.”
The letter from Toma and Petersen follows a series of actions taken against NAAG in the past two years – mostly by Republican Attorneys General. A handful of Attorneys General took steps to sever their state’s relationships with NAAG, while several other states highlighted their significant concerns with NAAG in attempts to force necessary change. Former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was one of the top cops running for the exit doors with NAAG, following Alabama, Texas, Missouri, and Missouri. Three former attorneys in the Arizona Attorneys General Office under Brnovich just recently became employed by the State Senate and House in the past few months.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was the first officeholder to break away from NAAG back in 2021. He said at the time, “I can’t justify spending taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that seems to be going further and further left. With the money we will save, I can add a young lawyer to my consumer protection division and yield a far better return on the taxpayer’s investment.”
The Alliance for Consumers organization cheered Arizona’s latest move this week, tweeting, “Kudos to Arizona! The @NatlAssnAttysGn should be held accountable for recklessly spending taxpayer dollars on their woke agenda.”
After receiving the letter, NAAG had a short comment in response: “NAAG has received the letter from the Arizona Legislature. We are working with our Executive Committee of attorneys general on the matter and will present it to our membership.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.