Blast From the Past

Connie Thompson was livid about my recent column reporting that she had lied by failing to disclose a felony arrest record on an application leading to her appointment to a powerful state regulatory board.

In a widely circulated e-mail to people she thinks are her supporters that was forwarded to me, Thompson tries to obscure her nasty entanglement with the law by alleging that the state board on which she sits -- whose executive director wants to get rid of her for violating public trust -- is engaged in corruption.

After writing that my earlier column was "mostly fiction, inaccuracies and downright lies," Thompson goes on in the e-mail to blast executive director Victoria Martin and the board that oversees nursing homes and assisted living centers for the elderly for supposedly violating "many state statutes and laws."

Thompson's claims are getting checked out by Arizona's General Accounting Office, but they are almost certainly an attempt to divert attention from the trouble that she and her husband, Republican state Representative Mark Thompson, find themselves in these days.

The Thompsons want us to ignore the fact that they have abused their public positions to profit their private business.

They want us to overlook Representative Thompson's self-serving vote for a bill last month that stripped away the right to sue under the state's elder-abuse statutes, a provision that provided direct financial benefits to their elder-care-referral business, Adult Care Consultants. Outrage over Thompson's vote in the House Health Committee led to the House Rules Committee's killing the bill, but there is an effort to revive it in the Senate.

The Thompsons also want to hide the demand by all of Connie Thompson's fellow board members that she resign because they believe she has tried to use the board for private financial gain.

She has piously refused.

In her e-mail, Connie Thompson writes that if New Times has "any integrity at all," it should "at least print the facts."

Well, I'm eagerly awaiting the GAO report to see if Connie's claims against Martin and the board have any foundation, but until then, here are some facts that I turned up during a recent trip to Tucson, information based on events that Thompson lied about on her board application.

It took a few days of plowing through Tucson Police Department reports and Pima County Superior Court and Sheriff's Office records to get to the bottom of what happened in 1981 and 1982, but what I found was riveting.

The skeletons in Thompson's closet are no doubt why she falsely stated she had never been arrested when she applied to former governor Jane Hull for appointment to the Arizona Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers.

My guess is that she lied on her application because she never imagined that anyone would discover she had been indicted by a grand jury on two felony counts "with the intent to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of Alan Robert Terry for first-degree murder."

Even though Hull apparently had no qualms about appointing Thompson to a board that has direct oversight of her business, surely such an unsettling disclosure as Thompson's arrest record would have prompted the governor to nix a sister Republican's application.

But, as I say, the odds were against anybody, including Hull's office, finding out about a 22-year-old felony indictment. Thompson must have thought that though she had sworn in the application that she had never been arrested, the charges against her were dropped eventually . . . what's the problem?!

The omission on Thompson's board application came out only after Victoria Martin dared to officially challenge Thompson's dubious ethics as a board member, and in came the Arizona Attorney General's Office. The AG's office decided last September that there wasn't enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Thompson for her board actions, though investigators did uncover the unsettling information that she did have the arrest record.

Thompson was obviously worried about what was going on, because during the course of the AG's probe, she sought legal counsel from Hugh Hallman, who recently won election as mayor of Tempe, where she and her husband do business.

She offers an absurd excuse for not disclosing her past criminal activity on her state application.

"I didn't disclose criminal charges because I didn't realize . . . that I had been charged with criminal charges," she states in an e-mail to me.

Thompson must be suffering from severe memory loss, because the events that led to her arrest were certainly something that most people would never forget.

Here's what I turned up in Tucson about Thompson's past:

In December 1981, Connie Thompson was known as Connie Stacy Lynn Lutz. A week before Christmas, the then-24-year-old Lutz was in Pinetop with her biker gang boyfriend, Jimmy Lewis.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty