UofA “friends” fund Pierce for power

Taking advantage of his final months in a leadership position in the Arizona Senate, Steve Pierce, of Prescott, has been visiting Tucson quite often these days collecting for his campaign and wooing donors for friends. Pierce, University of Arizona alumni, has won the favor of a new Independent Expenditure (IE) Committee called UA Friends for Arizona’s Future.

Senate president Pierce, who will most likely lose his leadership spot to Andy Biggs in the upcoming legislative session, is being viewed as a “litmus test in the next election” by the UA Friends” including Tucson’s heavy hitters Fred Boice and Don Diamond.

According to the Yellow Sheet, “The committee, which is chaired by former Arizona Board of Regents president Fred Boice, has raised $64,200 since it was formed in late February, and still had $59,200 cash on hand when the reporting period ended May 31. Camilla Strongin, the committee’s consultant, said the group intends to use the money to promote candidates who will support the UofA in the Legislature.”

The committee “was largely organized and driven by Boice,” according to the Yellow Sheet. Strongin refused to give the Yellow Sheet the names “of other committee members before receiving their consent.”

Pierce was instrumental in all but destroying any chance for meaningful oversight of the City of Tucson’s downtown debacle known as Rio Nuevo. At the request of Boice and his pals, Pierce replaced watch dog Board members, Jodi Bain and Rick Grinnell with Pierce donors and allies of Pierce’s donors. Between new president of the Board MCCusker, and watchdog members Moore, and Hill, the public still has a slim chance for representation and transparency. But it is a very slim chance.

Many of the most questionable expenses in the over $200 million unaccounted for in Rio Nuevo funds was for the benefit of the University of Arizona. According to various sources, the university entered into an IGA with the City of Tucson/Rio Nuevo District for the university’s Rio Nuevo-centered projects which were never built. The university put up $14 million, and was supposed to get it back. They have received $7 million so far. The second $7 is due if the parties terminate the contract, or upon receiving bonding and financing for the projects.

According to numerous sources and documents, the IGA obligated the Rio Nuevo District for up to $130 mil for the science center. It is unlikely that the university would want to eliminate that obligation and the resulting benefit from it.

Related article:

Tucson leaders call for public hearing on Rio Nuevo “coup”

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