The Ducey administration is having a hard time keeping its story straight regarding the report prepared as a result of an investigation into the Department of Economic Security (DES). Since at least February, various statements have been made by officials as to when and if the report has been completed.
After the Arizona Capitol Times reported in February that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) had completed its report, the Arizona Daily Independent requested a copy of it. On February 24, DPS Public Information Officer Quentin Mehr responded that the “report is complete and is in the process of being reviewed. Once reviewed the report will be turned over to DES.”
This week, in response to a demand by the Arizona Daily Independent’s attorney Chuck Johnson, the story took a bizarre twist. In an email to Johnson, DPS Public Information Officer Raul Garcia advised:
“DPS has not yet completed its work on this investigation. Trooper Lee did make the statement to Gary Grado regarding the February dates however that information was premature. There is only one investigation being conducted by DPS in regards to DES guns and ammunition. We have assigned an Inspector to oversee its investigations division until our investigation can be completed and new leadership identified. We understand that the public wants to know what occurred at DES and wants to ensure its investigation is thorough to provide not only a clear picture but also an unbiased perspective of what occurred. We continue to be committed to transparency and look forward to the completion of the investigation.”
It is difficult to believe that Lee’s statement was premature, when others, who should have known the truth, were making the same or similar claims. In fact, at nearly the same time Trooper Lee was making the statement to Grado, and Mehr sent his statement to the ADI, newly appointed Inspector General for the Department of Economic Security, Dennis Young, advised colleagues that the report was completed. Young went so far as to say that the newspaper reports were blown out of proportion. Young stated that investigators found that DES officials namely, Mr. Charles Loftus, had not accumulated as much ammunition as he could have to ensure the proper training of DES employees. Specifically, Young, who had been a DPS employee before being placed in the DES IG position, told colleagues, “I mean, it’s the purchase of the ammo, umm, based on what the plan was – of hiring security people and the training and all that; that amount of ammo was appropriate.”
Young concluded that it was clear to him that DPS had acted on misinformation.
Young had been referring to a number of articles that appeared in the Arizona Republic in which it was reported that DES employees had been stockpiling guns and ammunition. The Arizona Republic reporter included bizarre claims that Loftus had accumulated pallets of munitions as part of a cultish army under the leadership of then-DES director Tim Jeffries.
The day before Thanksgiving 2016, Jeffries, Chief Accountability Officer Juan Arcellana, Chief Human Resources Officer Morris Greenidge, Security Operations Administrator Charles Loftus and Deputy Director of Programs Clark Collier were walked out of the DES building by a SWAT team based on the bizarre claims.
Since then, the public has learned that the DES team had become political targets of the governor and his team for their refusal to look the other way when a political ally of Ducey’s had come under investigation for Medicaid fraud.