Pima County Leaders Went To Great Lengths To Send KFC Into Stratosphere With World View

[Photo from KFC Facebook video]

This week, World View announced that the company is pairing with KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) to send a chicken bucket payload on-board World View’s maiden multi-day Stratollite mission. Emails recently obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent reveal just what lengths Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has gone to in order to make chicken fly.

In February 2017, Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods struck down Pima County’s contract with World View Enterprises that would have required taxpayers to foot the bill for a new facility for the company’s luxury tourism business. According to the judge, the County was required to have the building appraised, hold a public auction, and set the lease rate no lower than 90% of the appraised value.

The judge’s ruling was issued in the Goldwater Institute lawsuit against the County on behalf of Pima County taxpayers.

The judge’s ruling surprised no one. The County’s violation of state law had outraged taxpayers and Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller. Miller was supportive of the Goldwater lawsuit, but in her capacity as supervisor, she was a defendant in the lawsuit. As a result, Miller was very careful to express her disapproval of the World View deal in order to avoid putting the County at risk in relation to the lawsuit.

Over the years, Huckelberry has grown accustomed to controlling the narrative in Pima County through a compliant press and large in-house communications team. However, emails written in August 2016, reveal a panicky Huckelberry willing to attack a lawyer with a stellar reputation and strip Miller of her right to represent her constituents.

Huckelberry’s plans, as laid out in his August 12, 2016 memo, are so contrary to the basic tenets of decency and democracy, that Deputy Pima County Attorney Regina Nassen practically begged him not to send the memo to anyone.

From: Maura Kwiatkowski [mailto:Maura.Kwiatkowski@pima.gov]
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2016 9:12 AM
To: Regina L. Nassen <Regina.Nassen@pcao.pima.gov>
Importance: High

Good morning, Gina.

Chuck would appreciate your review and comment on the enclosed draft memorandum to the Board.

He indicates he may be able to be talked out of it, but it will be a very hard sell.

Maura J. Kwiatkowski
Assistant to Pima County
Administrator Chuck Huckelberry
130 W Congress, Floor 10
Tucson, Arizona 85701


To: Chuck Huckelberry
From: Regina L. Nassen, Deputy Pima County Attorney, Pima County Attorney’s Office
Date: Friday, August 12, 2016 11:34:32 AM
Attachments: Pretrial Publicity

Chuck, don’t send this memo. Please.

Mr. Manley may be edging up to the ethical line with all his publicity-mongering, but he definitely has NOT crossed it. Making the allegations you have in the memo, with litigation on-going, is hitting below the belt. Issuing such a memo would be far more unseemly than what Manley has done, and would deprive all of us of our position on the high-road.

As for Supervisor Miller, she has every right to discuss her policy concerns about the World View deal with Goldwater, and even to encourage them to file a lawsuit. What she does not have a right to do is share confidential information about the case with Manley, but we have no evidence that she has done so or, if we have another executive session, would do so. There is no basis to exclude her from an executive session if we have one.

Regina L. Nassen

The email was obtained this week as part of a records request that was filed with Pima County in December 2016.

Huckelberry’s memo reads:

Date: August 12, 2016
To: The Honorable Chair and Members From: C.H. Huckelberry
Pima County Board of Supervisors County Administrator

Re: Possible Pretrial Prejudicial Publicity by the Goldwater Institute and Conflict of Supervisor Ally Miller

Prior and subsequent to filing litigation against the County, the Senior Attorney for the Goldwater Institute, James Manley, embarked on a campaign to try their case against Pima County in the media; clearly, an attempt to influence the outcome of the litigation in their favor. Mr. Manley’s publicity activities include the following:

03/30/16Manley interviewed by KVOA.com (Channel 4)
04/04/16Manley discusses World View on 4Tucson Radio Program (KVOI)
04/13/16Manley discusses the matter in an interview with Arizona Public Media
04/13/16Approximately 4 PM. Star reporter Prendergast makes telephone request for County Administrator comment regarding Goldwater lawsuit. Staff requests copy of lawsuit. Prendergast 4:48 PM: “The Goldwater Institute doesn’t want me to send over a copy of the lawsuit. They sent it to me as a courtesy, so I have to abide by their request.” County Administrator declines to comment without having seem lawsuit. Star posts story online later that day.
04/14/161. 9:51 AM Email from KJZZ Radio Phoenix (Marizco) requests County Administrator Interview on lawsuit. 2. Manley discusses the case in an interview with KJZZ.
04/14/1611:47 AM Goldwater Lawsuit filed in Pima County Superior Court
04/14/163:12 PM email from Arizona Daily Star (Gassen) indicates Goldwater has submitted an OpEd for publication (published 04/23/16) and asks if County wishes to do the same.
04/14/16Interview request received from Tucson Sentinel regarding Goldwater litigation.
04/20/16Andrea Kelly of Arizona Public Media advises via email Manley will discuss case on television show Metro Week for airing in May. Requests interview with County Administrator for early May.
04/23/16Manley OpEd Published in the Arizona Daily Star.
04/25/16Manley meets with staff of the Arizona Daily Star. Meeting discussed in Tim Steller’s 04/26/16 column.
05/10/16Manley discusses the litigation on Wake Up Tucson Radio Program (KVOI)
05/18/16Goldwater Institute sponsors luncheon in Tucson so that Manley can discuss the litigation
05/24/16Wall Street Journal publishes Goldwater Institute Board Chair Eric Crown’s OpEd calling World View deal illegal. (Wall Street Journal declines to publish response by CEO of World View.)
Mid-JuneManley discusses the case on the James T Harris Radio Show (KVOI) sic

Mr. Manley’s actions on behalf of the Goldwater Institute appear to be prejudicial and an attempt to influence the outcome of the litigation through the media, which may be a violation of the State Bar of Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct.

Additional dates and facts that are relevant include the following:

• On January 19, 2016, the Pima County Board of Supervisors heard in Public Session the proposed agreements with World View regarding the location of their headquarters within Pima County. The County provided specific economic incentives to World View for this location, all of which were disclosed in detail in the Agenda Item and the Board approval.

• On March 28, 2016, James Manley, Senior Attorney for the Goldwater Institute, transmitted a letter to the Chair and Members of the Board of Supervisors that contained a number of inaccurate and incomplete allegations regarding the agreement with World View. Mr. Manley requested the County respond no later than April 8, 2016. In the letter, Goldwater threatened litigation and indicated “Should the County ignore this request, it will be liable to a constitutional and statutory challenge by County taxpayers to enjoin these illegal expenditures.”

• The County provided a detailed response to the Goldwater Institute in an April 5, 2016 letter from Deputy County Attorney Regina Nassen. This thoughtful and clear response was obviously ignored by the Goldwater Institute, as they then filed a lawsuit on April 14, 2016 naming the Board of Supervisors, including Supervisor Ally Miller in the litigation.

After filing the lawsuit, Mr. Manley embarked on the media campaign summarized above touting the virtues of the Goldwater Institute’s lawsuit, indicating there were grieved taxpayers in Pima County who brought this matter to their attention and denying any involvement in constructing, crafting or directing the litigation by any member of the Board, including Supervisor Miller. Based on recently received public records, it is clear Supervisor Miller has been in communication with and assisting the Goldwater Institute in their litigation filed against the County. We now have reason to believe she was providing direct information, and perhaps confidential information, since this matter was discussed in at least one Executive Session of the Board of the Supervisors. It is highly unlikely Goldwater’s attorney was not aware that one of the Defendants in the litigation, Allyson Miller, was providing direct information to the Goldwater Institute without the knowledge of the County or any member of the Board of Supervisors. Such is clearly inappropriate, and in all likelihood, unethical under the Arizona Bar Association’s Rules of Conduct.

I have provided the County Attorney with records revealed by members of the media indicating Supervisor Miller had been in contact with the Goldwater Institute prior to, and, I assume, after they filed suit against the County.

I ask that you review this matter to determine whether it is appropriate to file a Bar complaint against Attorney James Manley for working in concert with a future defendant in a legal action against a public entity.

In addition, I have asked the County Attorney to ensure Supervisor Miller does not participate in any future Executive Sessions related to this matter.


c: Thomas Weaver, Chief Civil Deputy County Attorney
Regina Nassen, Deputy County Attorney
Robin Brigode, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

The ADI reached out to Manley for a comment. Being the consummate professional he is, he responded: “I do not have a comment, except to say that I and my colleagues respect and work to uphold the rules of professional conduct.”

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