AG's Office: Former CorpComm Candidate Kiana Sears Did Not Violate Law

Kiana Maria Sears
Kiana Maria Sears
Elizabeth Whitman/Phoenix New Times
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Last fall, Kiana Maria Sears neglected to mention several defunct LLCs on her financial disclosure forms when she filed to run for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

After examining a complaint referred by the Secretary of State in late October, the Arizona Attorney General's office soon determined that Sears had made an innocent mistake. On Thursday, Evan Daniels, unit chief counsel, sent her a letter notifying her that the case was officially dropped.

Ryan Anderson, a spokesperson for the attorney general's office, said that the case had been closed for at least two months.

Sears' mistake appeared to be minor and unintentional, Anderson said. First-time candidates could easily make mistakes on their campaign finance filings and disclosure statements, and "it can be confusing," especially for candidates who don't have professional help, he said.

Sears, a Democrat, ran last fall for one of two spots on the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities and oversees businesses, among other responsibilities. She lost the election to fellow Democrat Sandra Kennedy and Republican incumbent Justin Olson.

The investigations into Sears' financial disclosures began with a complaint from an Arizona resident in September.

Eric Spencer, elections director under former Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, referred the alleged violation to the AG's office. He said that although Sears had listed a business owned by her husband on her financial disclosure forms, she had failed to list eight others under her or her husband's name, the Arizona Republic reported at the time.

Sears responded to the complaint in a letter to the AG's office on November 12, shortly before she officially lost the race for Corporation Commissioner. She said that she was amending her financial disclosures to include the businesses she had originally left off, and she tried to explain her mistake.

Under the law, she thought she had to disclose only "profitable businesses," Sears wrote. "The businesses that are the target of the complaint are not merely unprofitable — they are essentially completely dormant. That is, they are for all intents and purposes a name reservation," she wrote.

In the letter, Sears took responsibility for the mistake, but she asked the AG's office not to fine her and to accept amended disclosures instead. Under Arizona law, the violation would have been a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500.

Among the businesses on Sears' amended financial disclosure forms were Desert Rain Production LLC, described as a "music venture," real estate company E-Squared Estates LLC, and SOS Technology LLC, described as "general consulting." 

Sears did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment on the closure of the case.

"Ignorance of the law is not necessarily a defense," Anderson said, "but in the totality of looking at everything, she made a mistake on her filing that was not designed to hide information from the public."

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.