The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted today to file a special court action to force the county's treasurer to open his accounting books and explain a mysterious transfer of funds.
The Supervisors say (see full text of news release below) that nearly $900,000 in a state account managed by the treasurer had been spent without a clear reason, "of which $411,000 is a transfer to an outside bank account, leaving a balance of $23,000."
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox seems awfully close to an accusation with her quip, "In all my years of being an elected official, I have never seen a government official transfer monies to a private account and not give a reason for the transfer."
Sort of sounds like something nefarious is going on, doesn't it?
Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins has got some explaining to do.
SUPERVISORS TO FILE SPECIAL ACTION IN SUPERIOR COURT
Action to Force County Treasurer to Open Books
Maricopa County supervisors voted late today to file a special action in Superior Court to force County Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins to open his books. The vote came two weeks after serving Hoskins with a subpoena allowing an internal audit of the Treasurer's use of special funds. The special action, to be filed in civil court, will ask a judge to enforce the Board's subpoena.
"It's difficult to understand Mr. Hoskins' defensiveness when he has not been accused of anything, said Supervisors' Chairman Max Wilson. "Internal audits such as this are commonplace at the County, and are necessary for responsible governance. If Mr. Hoskins' actions had not turned a proposed cooperative process into an adversarial proceeding, then this all may have been over by now."
Responding to a complaint about the Treasurer's use of special funds for his office's advertising, the Board of Supervisors and county administration have been pushing for an audit of the Taxpayers' Information Fund (TIF), which was created by the Legislature to fund technology improvements and advise property owners of their property being sold at a deed sale. Since last December, county officials had sought an independent audit from an outside agency, including the State's Auditor General and Pima County. Hoskins has refused to cooperate. Finally, on April 3, county officials delivered a subpoena to Hoskins and his office. When Hoskins did not respond, the board unanimously decided to take the issue to court.
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"No one, either elected or appointed, has the legal right to refuse an audit of public funds." County Manager David Smith said.
Officials from the Office of Management and Budget said the TIF had a balance of about $600,000 last July 1. Another $198,000 was deposited into the fund through April 15th and the fund earned an additional $85,000 in interest. About $883,000 from the fund has been spent, of which $411,000 is a transfer to an outside bank account, leaving the account with a balance of $23,000. The board members would like a detailed account of how the money was spent.
"In all my years of being an elected official, I have never seen a government official transfer monies to a private account and not give a reason for the transfer," said District 5 Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox.