Worsley Denies Involvement In Loan To Apache Railway, Cronyism

Arizona State Senator Bob Worsley is considered by many to be a master of crony capitalism, and a recent deal by the state’s economic development agency which formally awarded a $2 million loan to a small, northeast Arizona railway, is raising eyebrows and is failing the smell test.

According to Goldwater Institute attorneys, the loan fulfills what they believe to an unconstitutional special law.

Records obtained by the Goldwater Institute from the Arizona Commerce Authority show that the agency is providing the loan through its $25 million annual “Arizona Competes Fund.” State law requires that the agency use this fund to give grants to companies for expansion, or to relocate their operations to the state. The bulk of the fund comes from state income tax withholdings.

Governor Jan Brewer, who worked with Worsley and a handful of other legislators to push through Medicaid expansion, also worked the gang to make a special exception to the spending restrictions on the fund and approved a state budget bill provision that was tailor-made to give a loan to a Navajo County enterprise.

Lo and behold, the business in question was the Apache Railway Company, a small rail spur in Snowflake that currently employs eight people. That’s right; 8 people.

According to the Goldwater Institute, the last-minute legislative favor has heightened concerns among some legislators and watchdog organizations that the ACA staff and board of directors have used Arizona Competes Fund to finance pet projects. No clear evidence of this has emerged in the agency’s brief three-year existence. However, a recently released Goldwater Institute investigation has found that even if such questionable spending practices were a problem, the public would likely never know. This is because the laws governing the ACA exempt its staff and its board of directors from the typical disclosure and transparency requirements that other state agencies must abide – all in the name of protecting competition and trade secrets.

Goldwater Institute attorney Jon Riches said the special loan to the Apache Railway is undoubtedly “a brazen example of cronyism.”

“The loan violates the ‘Special Law’ provision of the Arizona constitution,” Riches said. “The primary purpose of this provision was to prevent bureaucrats and lawmakers from playing favorites with taxpayers’ money.”

The Apache Railway was nearly shut down in late 2012 when its owner, the paper-mill company Catalyst, laid off more than 250 workers and closed its paper mill. According to Goldwater, Catalyst tried to auction off the rail to a scrapper for profit.

The railway and former mill also are on the same property as a biomass plant that was opened by Worsley. Not surprisingly, Worsley denies having anything to do with the Snowflake effort to obtain a loan through special legislation.

Not a surprise at all.

Arizona rancher Stephen Brophy and Snowflake city officials said in interviews with the Goldwater Institute that they had intervened with the rail’s sale, and negotiated an agreement with the mill’s buyer to save the railway. They then proceeded to contact state officials for additional financial help, asking for a loan that they could leverage when applying for federal rail grants to buy the railway and ensure its future.

The railway’s supporters have said they believe the rail could one day be used to haul potash for fertilizer from mines in the area. Those mines have been planned for years but have yet to open. The rail’s biggest customer currently is the Hormel Foods-owned company Farmer John, which relies on Apache Railway to haul livestock feed from a Burlington Northern Santa Fe cross-continental line to its only Arizona hog farm, near Snowflake. The rail also has been used to store BNSF’s unused freight cars.

Worsely get around the state. He is one of the driving forces behind the proposed Rio Nuevo legislation that, according to a Tucson tabloid, will “remove the shackles” once imposed by the more conservative Legislature in 2010.

You can read the full investigative report on the ACA here: Arizona Commerce Cronies: Picking and Choosing Winners With Your Tax Dollars

Related article:

Rio Nuevo bill sponsors a mixed bag

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3 Comments

  1. Say it isn’t so. My wife just received a flier in the mail from Worsley. It started off with “I” and not “we” did such and such to bring additional business in to Arizona. Obviously, there is no teamwork in his eyes.

  2. Let me see. Build a state where individual liberty, economic freedom, personal responsibility spark an economic tsunami that puts more people into the creation of wealth or do I cover my immediate life in legal greed and theft that has no consequences, and it is fast or so I think, say what’s that stink?

    “Hey! Yes, you, my fine brothers and sisters, spare a chair on a committee?”

  3. No real surprise that McWorsley would be lining his own pockets with our tax dollars. He is the traitorous shill that was trotted out by the LDS church and the Chamber of Commerce globalists to challenge conservative Sen. Russell Pearce. Sen. Pearce had co-authored SB1070 and many other AZ bills to stem the tsunami of illegal immigration into AZ. LDS had commenced their illegal alien recruitment agenda to expand their tithing base, which now also includes homosexual activists, gay unions and abortion when convenient, a la bishop Mitt Romney, the etch-a-sketch morman candidate. They had to get rid of the man who was fighting to secure AZ borders and integrity, and they branded him a rogue morman. The CoC was on their continual search for cheap slave labor. The LDS zombie voters and the CoC slaves did what they were told to vote Sen. Pearce out.

    So now McWorsley gets caught with his hand in the taxpayer cookie jar? That seems to fit the pattern.

    And oh yes, what about carpet bagger congressional candidate Andy McTobin? See any similarities? He’s been funded to run in CD1, where he doesn’t even live, against conservative economist and veteran AZ lawmaker Adam Kwasman. But is he campaigning in CD1, where he doesn’t even live? No, he’s down in Mexico, politicking with a pack of pro-AMNESTY hyenas, http://seeingredaz.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/tobin-makes-friends-in-mexico-forfeits-them-in-cd-1/
    waiting for RINO John Boehner to show up to run fund raisers for him and his co-candidate in CD2 Mzzz Martha McMcMcMcSally(against conservative CMSgt. Chuck Wooten).
    http://seeingredaz.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/gop-establishment-meddles-in-contested-primaries/

    Is there a pattern here? And as ADI so succinctly expressed, doesn’t it have a foul odor to it?

    God bless America.

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