Maricopa County Craziness

Andrew Thomas Lies in Spin of Damning Grand-Jury Transcripts; Misstates Juror's Own Words in Self-Serving Column

Andrew Thomas tries to spin damning grand-jury testimony in a new blog column published today -- but he fails miserably.

Staying on a tack he began last week, after the release of grand-jury transcripts that showed the weakness of the former Maricopa County Attorney's case against county officials, Thomas repeats the ludicrous claim that the grand jury did the bidding of his prosecutors. The transcripts show in compelling fashion that he's not right about that.

In his blog on the Intellectual Conservative Web site, Thomas notes that when grand jurors first heard the conspiracy-minded cases against the Board of Supervisors and local judges, they asked for a draft indictment.

In his mind, this means the grand jurors must have been "prepared to act" on an indictment. That's quite a presumption, considering that the jurors had been asking critical questions of Thomas' prosecutors and her chief witness, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, concerning the county law officers' obvious conflicts of interest in the case.

But that aside, Thomas then punctuates his diatribe with an outright lie: 


Later, our prosecutors asked that the grand jury end their inquiry so it could be referred to another law enforcement agency. They did so.

The grand jury transcript shows that's not the way it happened.

The transcript shows the prosecutors never asked for an "end of inqiry" as a means of referring the case to another agency.

But more importantly, both the grand jury's spokesman and one of the prosecutors display a keen awareness that there's a difference between voting an "end of inquiry" and what the prosecutors were asking for:

(Michael Baker, deputy county attorney): At this point, we are asking that the case, basically, be released, with the intent that in the future, should a special prosecutor choose to represent the case, they will begin again with the entire presentation to whatever grand jury is sitting at that point.

(Juror): What are our other choices besides that one?

Baker: Well, you have heard the presentation. You could, at this time, decide that you want a draft indictment; you could end the inquiry...

As we now know, thanks to the release of these important documents at the request of Interim County Attorney Rick Romley, that -- following Baker's suggestion -- the grand jury then voted to "end the inquiry."

In the "presentation" referenced by Baker, grand jurors were told to reserve the decision to "end the inquiry" for the really bad, "stinky" cases. At no point in the transcript do prosecutors even imply that ending the inquiry would be the same thing as giving them what they want.

In fact, if anything, it looks like the grand jury was duped. After their vote, Thomas' lead prosecutor in the case, Lisa Aubuchon, took the case back and tried unsuccessfully to give it to another prosecutor.

Now Thomas wants to change the black-and-white evidence of the transcripts to suit the needs of his campaign. And the candidate for state Attorney General is clearly not afraid to lie about it.

Don't even get us started on the fact that the transcripts also prove that Thomas never had a shred of evidence that Judge Gary Donahoe took a bribe.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.