The Arizona Attorney General's Office has confirmed that former state Lottery Director Tony Bouie is under investigation, but officials aren't divulging details.
Meanwhile, New Times has uncovered more information about Bouie's use of a state vehicle — which seems to prove that Bouie misrepresented the facts in an interview about that use.
Bouie, a former NFL player and businessman, was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey but resigned on January 13, two days after Bouie admitted to New Times that he'd misused a state vehicle by allowing his children in it.
New Times' January 11 article covered detailed allegations from a whistle-blower's letter about Bouie's use of the car, his hiring of jocks he knew in college to high places at the agency, how he was "wined and dined" by Lottery vendors and how he remodeled his office.
Ducey's spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, told New Times that the governor and Bouie had agreed the issues detailed in the article "will be a real distraction... So, in the best interest of the state, Director Bouie has stepped down."
A day after Bouie left his position, Arizona State Senator Kimberly Yee told New Times that she might continue to probe expenses Bouie may have charged the state "without budget approval," despite his resignation. Yee had held up his confirmation for a year because of concerns about Bouie, including his lack of experience and a Lottery office purchase of a loft or field box suite at University of Phoenix stadium and a tent at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
This week, scrutiny of Bouie jumped to a new level.
"We can confirm there is an investigation; however, we can’t discuss the specifics of ongoing investigations," says Mia Garcia, spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
Garcia teases with an additional comment, saying Brnovich "is committed to investigating legitimate allegations of fraud or government mismanagement."
Whatever else Bouie may be in trouble for, little question remains that he violated state law and fleet-vehicle policy with his use of state vehicles. Arizona law forbids the use of vehicles owned by the state to be driven to or from an employee's home without approval from the state Department of Administration.
ADOA officials verify that the agency has no evidence that Bouie had such approval. The law also doesn't allow a vehicle to be used for "personal convenience" or for "transportation of family members or friends or any person not essential to accomplishing the purpose for which the vehicle is dispatched."
The anonymous whistle-blower's letter alleged that Bouie often had his children in a sedan he used that was part of the Lottery office's small fleet of state vehicles — and that sometimes he didn't use a required child seat for the kids.
In an exclusive interview with New Times before he resigned, Bouie acknowledged that he did violate the "no family members" rule but said his 2- and 5-year-olds, the youngest of his four children, always were buckled properly into car seats when he had them in the state-issued Chevrolet Impala he checked out.
But he added that it was "absolutely not true I'm using it for personal use."
He further explained that when his children were in the vehicle, it was because he was taking them to an official Lottery event to broaden their horizons.
However, logs obtained by New Times today paint a different picture of his vehicle use. Bouie checked out two sedans frequently, often keeping them overnight. When he bothered to jot down the exact time the vehicles were checked in and out, as required on a state form, the records show he habitually used the vehicles during lunchtime and that he often left work at about 2 or 3 p.m., returning with the vehicle the the next morning.
Additional travel-expense documents show that Bouie, who made a taxpayer-funded annual salary of $115,700, also charged the state for gas charges he incurred — apparently in a personal vehicle — for various work-related travel around town. These documents show that Bouie would deduct the 38-mile trip to or from his Anthem home, indicating he knew he couldn't charge taxpayers for that sort of use.
For instance, records show that on August 20, Bouie drove about 44 miles from Anthem straight to a "chamber of commerce meeting" in Fountain Hills. In a submitted travel-claim form, he deducted the 38 miles between his home and the Lottery headquarters in Tempe. He requested reimbursement only of $2.88 for the six-mile difference. He also requested $11.04 for a return trip of roughly 25 miles from Fountain Hills to the Lottery office.
Yet he apparently used a state vehicle before and after that trip to travel to and from his home. He checked out a car from July 31 to August 6, for example, which went through a weekend. His calendar for 2015 and 2016 , also obtained by New Times, shows what appears to be a normal Monday-Friday schedule that week, with no indication of a weekend or overnight event. A few days after the August 20 meeting, he checked out a vehicle and returned it about noon the next day, records show. A few days after that, he checked out a vehicle from August 31 to September 11.
All told, Bouie's name appears 47 times out of about 200 total names on agency "Vehicle Sign in-out" forms dated from February 18, 2015 to January 12, 2016. The last dates that Bouie's listed as checking out a vehicle are November 18 at 2 p.m. to November 19 at 9:21 a.m.
It's unclear whether he stopped using the vehicle after that or simply didn't log his usage. Many of the logs he filled out, or had others fill out for him, had irregular or mistaken entries or were missing exact time information.
Further confusing what Bouie may or may not have known about vehicle policy is an e-mail he received on January 5 from Rob Smook, acting fleet administration and ADOA rules administrator. Smook mentions that he'd just spoken with Bouie, who had a question about the rules of using state vehicles. Smook gave him the link to an ADOA website that contains the rules, also codified in state statute.
About 40 minutes after receiving the late-afternoon e-mail, Bouie asked Smook if he had a "work to domicile request form." Smook replied that "the few agencies that authorize domicile-to-duty travel have forms."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Bouie then told Smook the Lottery created its own request forms. No record exists at ADOA that Bouie submitted such a form.
Bouie didn't respond to a request for comment from New Times.
At least two other Lottery employees checked out cars overnight or for multiple days, the logs show, but the circumstances of those vehicle uses remains unclear.
The improper use of state vehicles is an issue this year at the Arizona House of Representatives, too. A January article by the Arizona Capitol Times reported that "a handful of lawmakers and top staffers have driven tens of thousands of miles in the last few months" at taxpayer expense.