Time for Maricopa County Supervisors To Put Past Away, Honor Assurances

Maricopa County supervisors turned their attention to the eclipse this week, but it is time they turn their attention to their responsibility to taxpayers and put a stop to the protracted legal and political battle with former employees. [Photo from Twitter]

Almost eight years later, Rachel Alexander and Lisa Aubuchon are still suffering from retaliation by the former Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for their roles in representing Sheriff Joe Arpaio alongside his attorney and their boss, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Despite the fact that the two women were merely collateral damage in a political tug-of-war, the bureaucrats, working in the County’s Risk Management Department, are still racking up legal fees for the taxpayers.

Those bureaucrats are refusing to pay the cost of the disciplinary proceedings against the two former public servants, which cost them their licenses to practice law. Until those costs are paid, the Arizona State Bar will not consider readmitting them. Aubuchon has been forced to work as a paralegal. Alexander works as a journalist, unable to make payments on her ballooning law school loans. Thomas cannot practice law either (he is not part of the litigation but is also required to pay the $101,500).

The County claims that there was no employment contract between the two with the County, so the County’s insurance doesn’t cover it. This is preposterous. Both Alexander and Aubuchon were merit protected (covered) employees. They weren’t merely at will employees, employees on probation, or temporary employees. They had the fullest level of an employment contract possible.

The fact that Alexander’s supervisor in the matter, Peter Spaw, who was also disciplined by the Bar, had 100 percent of the disciplinary costs of the proceedings against him paid for by the County, clearly demonstrates a double standard is being employed.

It is widely believed that the bureaucrats at the County harbor a grudge against Thomas, Alexander and Aubuchon and would rather pad the pockets of the large law firm they hired to fight off having to pay the $101,500. Sacks Tierney has been paid well over $101,500 by now to fight having to pay $101,500. This is a gross abuse of taxpayer dollars. Sacks Tierney has no incentive to settle, because it’s easy money for them to keep the litigation going.

The three weren’t supposed to pay all the costs of the highly publicized, televised show trial against them. When they decided to fight the charges, they did this upon the assurance (documented in an email) from Bar counsel John Gleason that they would not be responsible for the excessive costs associated with a show trial, which included flying him in from out of state and putting him up at the Biltmore Hotel. This assurance was not honored and the Bar demanded all the extra costs from the three. Alexander has pointed out that the average attorney who has their license suspended for six months, as happened in her case, usually ends up owing only $2,000 to $4,000 in costs. Not $101,500. The Bar won’t let her back in until the full amount is paid, despite the fact that the amount includes the costs of disciplining her superiors. Similarly, Alexander did not work with Aubuchon on the matter for which they were disciplined, but Aubuchon is being charged for Alexander’s discipline.

The County has gotten away with this for too long, and because the issue is so complex most people don’t understand it.

It all began when Thomas and Arpaio noticed that some Maricopa County Superior Court judges were not upholding illegal immigration laws. At the same time, they observed what they believed to be public corruption by a couple of Maricopa County supervisors; Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley. Wilcox, an ambitious Democrat who has advocated for open borders, was allegedly hiding financial dealings and not reporting them on required financial disclosures documents. Stapley raised tens of thousands of dollars for a campaign in a race in which he ran unopposed. Reportedly the money was spent on luxurious personal items instead. When Thomas and Aubuchon attempted to prosecute the two supervisors, the judges, whose budgets are controlled by the supervisors, refused to rule against them. At the time, the judges were rumored to want a brand-new $34 million state-of-the-art court tower.

In their frustration, Thomas and Aubuchon filed a racketeering lawsuit against the judges, supervisors and their attorneys due in part to the fact that they were unethically sharing attorneys. Alexander was asked to put her name on the racketeering case after it was filed, and then withdraw the suit – that was basically her entire role in the proceedings for which she was targeted.

A petition is being started to demand that Maricopa County put the past in the past and honor their debt. The only people benefitting from denying their financial responsibility are the private attorneys. Both Thomas and Arpaio are no longer in office, and at this point, it is clear that there is no other reason to hang the $101,500 around the necks of Thomas, Alexander and Aubuchon, but politics.

The vendetta has gone on too long.