Maricopa County Attorney Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio indicted Supervisor Don Stapley over allegations that he raised money to run for chairman of the National Association of Counties — yet spent it on stuff like hair implants and spa treatments. They indicted Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, alleging she obtained loans from the non-profit Chicanos Por La Causa even as she voted to give the agency county grants. Finally, they filed a direct complaint accusing Judge Gary Donahoe of bribery, hindering prosecution, and obstructing an investigation, solely because they didn't like a number of his rulings against them.

It was a wild week, to say the least.

If you want to know more about Donahoe and Stapley, check out our news blog, www.­phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever, where my colleagues Ray Stern and Paul Rubin and I are attempting to stay on top of this stuff. But I can tell you a bit about the charges against Wilcox now. And that's because Thomas' lawyers, in typical fashion, screwed this one up.

Phil Gordon is fishing off the campaign pier.
Photo Illustration
Phil Gordon is fishing off the campaign pier.

Like their original indictment against Stapley, filed almost exactly one year ago, the case against Wilcox rests entirely on the financial disclosure forms she filed with the county clerk. But as the Stapley case was fought in court, it was revealed that the supervisors, decades ago, failed to properly mandate the forms — so Thomas was forced to charge Wilcox creatively. Wilcox faces one charge of perjury, forgery, and false swearing for each year she filed the forms without disclosing the loans.

But it's unclear whether those charges will stick. The independent prosecutor who used to be handling the Stapley case dismissed similar charges against Stapley this fall. Without the forms actually being required by law, the prosecutor felt (with good reason) that he couldn't go after Stapley for ancillary crimes like forgery and perjury.

If Thomas was looking at this clearly, he might well come to the same conclusion.

But Thomas isn't looking at this clearly. He's in this to embarrass, to score points, to throw mud against the wall — but not, surely, to ultimately win a conviction.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the final felony charges against Wilcox: 12 counts of "conflict of interest." Each count covers one vote where Wilcox voted to grant county money to Chicanos Por La Causa, or CPLC.

It's interesting to note that every last one of those votes was unanimous. It's also interesting how expansive Thomas' definition of "conflict of interest" is. All of Wilcox's votes were for CPLC's behavioral health services and minority AIDS initiative. That means, absent testimony alleging a shakedown, they were unrelated to any loans Wilcox got from CPLC's small-business-loan subsidiary.

And that may complicate the prosecutors' efforts. Arizona's conflict-of-interest law defines an interest as either "substantial" or "remote." Public officials must only abstain from a vote if they have a "substantial" interest in the contract at hand.

A "substantial" interest is, say, if the government is ordering supplies from a business you own. Or if it's hiring your wife.

A "remote" interest is, say, if you're on an unpaid board of directors. Or you own less than 3 percent of a company.

Wilcox's interest in CPLC seems remote, at best.

Indeed, the conflict-of-interest law makes an exception for "a class of persons consisting of at least 10 members which is no greater than the interest of the other members of that trade, business, occupation, profession or class of persons."

What that means: If at least 10 business owners have received loans from CPLC , Wilcox should be free to vote on CPLC grants.

So why would Thomas charge her anyway? Sometimes, with this guy, the facts just don't seem to matter.

Consider the first six charges: All refer to votes that took place in the early part of 2002. That means they happened more than seven years ago, beyond the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors can argue that the statute of limitations is "tolled" if the perpetrator leaves the state, or tries to cover up the crimes. But that would hardly apply in this case: Mary Rose Wilcox and her husband, Earl, have been in the spotlight for years. And it took me just a few minutes to find a record of the 2002 loan from Chicanos Por La Causa to Wilcox: it's been online for years, thanks to the Maricopa County Recorder's Office.

Or consider, finally, count seven of the indictment. Thomas' prosecutors charged Wilcox with voting for contracts with CPLC in March 2003. But meeting minutes show that Wilcox wasn't even present for the vote. She came late to the meeting.

How could Thomas' prosecutors not notice that before getting an indictment?

Ultimately, it's yet more evidence that Thomas has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to prosecuting the supervisors. If he's making mistakes this stupid, you know he's not soberly balancing the facts and seeking justice.

He's simply out for blood.

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S
S

Wow.....another Mark Sanford!! Run off with your mistress/sex buddy while the wife runs the show. Sadly they are both dishonest and not forthcoming with the truth to the public. Just ask the right people. This relationship has been going on much longer than he/she states. Two more families hurt again by a sex scandal. Officially today, 12/09, they are BOTH still married. She has benefited way too much $. Where's Sheriff Joe? There needs to be an investigation BIG TIME.

 bruce
bruce

gorden is just another liberal whore master who's' sanctuary policy has made phoenix the kidnap capital of America.

Chris Long
Chris Long

Gee, we have Arpaio, Thomas, Gordon, Napolitano, Romley, Symington, Meacham, DeConcini et al.

Anyone, uh 9ahem) notice a trend therein in Az politics and law ?

Ya'll are trying to plink away at this with a BB gun, when what's needed is the biggest bore scattergun you can get...

tyler
tyler

Sarah is right on with this story.

Maltese Falcon
Maltese Falcon

This story is comical. It has irrelevant facts uses useless facts to draw conclusions. More comical is Fenske criticizing the legitimate daily and saying she was developing this story. That is complete BS. Fenske trolls record requests made by the Arizona Republic and then requests the same information. Because she does not have to use sources or facts, she just writes whatever she wants by objectifying her conclusions beforehand. She comes up with a headline and then makes things up to write the story around the headline.

And for her to be crirical of someone who benefitted from a significant other? Hello pot meet the kettle. I saw Fenske making out with the publisher of her own paper at the Arizona Press Awards dinner a couple of years ago. So it seems she was benefitting financially from her boyfriend, who apparently dumped her.

d
d

So is the lady his mistress and Gordon her sugar daddy since they are not divorced form their respective spouses?

Buzzcut Barbie
Buzzcut Barbie

Well at least Gordon isnt fucking Thelda Williams, at least that would be disgusting. His current chick is a bit hefty, but hes 58- beggars cant be choosers.

 
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