During his last six months as Maricopa County Attorney, Andrew Thomas took on a series of high-profile defendants and pursued both criminal cases and civil litigation against a host of other county officials.
But even during that frenzied time, Thomas maintained the barest of presences at his county office. In fact, records from the county parking garage suggest that, in that period, Thomas averaged less than three hours per day in the office.
New Times obtained the parking garage records via a public records request to the county last month. Since Thomas is running for Arizona Attorney General, is no longer a county employee, and the records couldn't be used to establish his routine and potentially violate his security, the county agreed to release a log showing the total time that elapsed between Thomas' swipes "in" and "out" of the garage each day.
The log shows that Thomas rarely put in a five-day work week at the office -- and even when he bothered to show up, he often didn't stay long. The records show just one eight-hour workday on Thomas' part during the entire six-month period.
Jason Rose, a spokesman for Thomas' campaign for Attorney General, says it's not accurate to say Thomas worked short days. He said Thomas frequently telecommuted -- as county attorney, he established a policy that allowed staff to log up to 20 hours per week from home. Thomas also had speaking engagements, sometimes had to travel, and was sometimes driven in to work by his office's investigators, he says.
"People can say many things about Andrew Thomas," Rose says. "A lack of hard work isn't one of them."
But Thomas' absence from the office was frequently a subject of speculation among his staff. And records show that Thomas' lack of face time only decreased as he readied to resign and run for higher office.
From his last month in office, March 3 to April 3, records show Thomas' vehicle was in the county garage for a grand total of 45 hours and six minutes. He skipped 10 days completely, and only on two occasions did he show up at the office for a five-hour day.
Even the criminal charge Thomas filed in December against the county's presiding criminal court judge, Gary Donahoe, failed to trigger long days at the office.
Thomas spent fewer than four hours in the office, total, on the Thursday and Friday before the charges were filed. Then, that Monday, as the charges were filed and a press conference held, Thomas stuck around for just four hours and five minutes, records show.
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Rose insists that's not a black mark on Thomas' record.
"If you were to compare his time in the office to the county supervisors, to the governor, to John McCain or Jon Kyl, or to [Arizona House] Speaker Kirk Adams, I think you might find comparable levels of time of the office, especially as it relates to a telecommuting policy," Rose says.
Rose also notes the telecommuting policy wasn't in place during the tenure of Thomas' predecessor, Rick Romley. "I understand he had a policy of working half days," Rose says.