Former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, on Tuesday filed a Notice of Claim on behalf of former Department of Economic Security Director Timothy Jeffries against the State of Arizona for false statements. The Notice of Claim addresses false statements contained in the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Firearms Program Audit of Arizona DES released on July 7, 2017.
Jeffries, a successful businessman who agreed to reform DES at the request of Governor Doug Ducey, is seeking $5.1 million in damages in his libel claim against the state. In the Notice of Claim, Horne alleges that the bogus audit contained false information that caused “considerable damage” to Jeffries’ professional reputation.
The Notice reads in part:
• The report stated that Jeffries carried a gun on state property. That was false.
• The report stated the Jeffries wanted to arm every DES employee. That was false.
• The report stated the Jeffries wanted to create his own police force and control it. That was false.
• The report stated that Jeffries was involved in ammunition planning procurement and storage. That was false.
• The report stated that Jeffries regularly took ammunition from the DES inventory. That was false.
• The report stated that Jeffries went to a gun range on a weekly basis. That was false.
• The report stated the Jeffries would leave work early to go to a gun range. That was false.
• The report stated Jeffries openly proclaimed to be going to the shooting range to shoot DES inventory. That was false.
• There were other false statements in the report. The author of the report and witnesses quoted in the report or cited in the report and other State employees knew that the statements were false and acted with malice.
When asked if he was prepared to take the case to court, Horne responded referring to Jeffries, “Oh yes, that’s why he hired me.”
The Arizona Daily Independent reported last month that “nearly 7 months after DES interim Inspector General Dennis Young advised multiple people that the audit was complete and found the claims to be baseless,” yet the audit “included the finding that ammunition was purchased in violation of state law and an “excessive” amount of ammunition had been procured.”
The Arizona Daily Independent’s attorney, Chuck Johnson, was forced to contact the Ducey administration after it had delayed turning over documents for months. Johnson’s request included all versions of the audit due to the admission by former DES interim director Henry Darwin that the initial version had laid blame for procurement lapses on the shoulders of DES Chief Law Enforcement Officer Charles Loftus, which Darwin believed to be “possibly inaccurate.”
Despite Johnson’s demand DPS only turned over one version dated June 26, 2017 which included the false statements.
In March, Jeffries was scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy to discuss the massive software failure and associated costs of the State’s benefits program. Jeffries’ appearance was canceled after Ducey, through the House leadership made his opposition to the appearance known.
Jeffries was scheduled to appear with Loftus, who served in the Department of Economic Security (DES) Office of Inspector General’s Office. The two men were invited to appear before the Committee by its chair, Representative Bob Thorpe.
The ADI reported at the time that “Loftus was prepared to testify that the governor’s office was interfering with fraud investigations when known donors and suspected friends of the Governor came under investigation. Loftus with concurrence from his supervisors took the case to the Arizona Attorney General’s office for investigation and prosecution. Loftus was abruptly terminated along with Director Jeffries by Kirk Adams, Governor Ducey’s Chief of Staff and rumored dark money coordinator shortly after taking the case to the AG’s Office.”
After the hearing was cancelled, Jeffries appeared on the James T. Harris radio show in Tucson. Harris asked Jeffries about the fact that the governor was rumored to be afraid of being embarrassed:
“As you recall, I served as the director of Economic Security for 633 days, and on day 500, which would be July 13, 2016, I had an excellent meeting with the governor and his Chief of Operations, Henry Darwin. And in that meeting, I briefed them at the end about this massive failure – and I believe -scandal of this major software system. So at that time, I recommended quite enthusiastically, that the vendor be terminated and we stop the incineration of taxpayer dollars.” Jeffries said he thought at the time that the governor was willing to tackle the issue. “Well here it is eight months later, and best I can tell $50 million more has been paid to this inept vendor; wasting taxpayer dollars. That $50 million does not even include time and materials; so we probably burned another $75 million of taxpayer funds because we don’t have a spine to do the right thing.”
Harris had asked Jeffries about legislation that Thorpe had hoped to pass that would limit time and material contract awards like that which was used for the development of the HEAPlus software system to facilitate the State’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Jeffries explained to Harris why those contracts, as is the case with HEAPlus, are so reckless. “Amazingly, when Arizona moved down the road to bring in a new Medicaid system, which would be integrated with food stamps and welfare payments, when AHCCCS (the State’s welfare system) signed the agreement with this vendor (SIS, LLC) it was not a contract. It did not have deliverables, or milestones, or timelines, or claw backs. It was purely a time and materials agreement. Basically the State said – with taxpayer money –‘go to work,’ and the vendor said the initiative would take 20 months and cost $47 million. Okay; well that sounds like a short time, but a lot of money. When I briefed the governor and Chief Darwin on this we were at approximately 52 months and $102 million. And of course now we are rapidly approaching 60 months and well over $150 million, and that’s $100 million over projection and the system is only a third done.”
Last week, Ducey encouraged Sen. John McCain to vote against reforming the ACA through the proposed “skinny repeal” before the Senate.