In a county feud that's been marked by cries of legal conflicts of interest, here's one more potential conflict:
Remember how Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores is handling the potential criminal cases against two Maricopa County supervisors, thanks to a court ruling about County Attorney Andrew Thomas' legal conflicts?
Well, back in November, Flores filed a personal lawsuit against the
Gila County Globe Unified School District with the help of her attorney, Ernest Calderon -- who happens to also be Thomas' attorney.
Flores and her husband, former superintendent for the Globe district Tim Trent, want $2.4 million in damages and compensation, according to the lawsuit (which you can read here if you want more details).
We won't get into the nitty-gritty of the Gila County flap, except to say that $2.4 million looks like about $2 million too high. (They even want the cost of a $9,000 European vacation reimbursed, for crying out loud).
The interesting part to us flatlanders here in Maricopa County is that Calderon is solidly in the Thomas camp. He's been given county work by Thomas and argued for Thomas in past State Bar investigations. Most recently, he lobbied against the state Supreme Court's choice of investigator to look at the latest Bar complaints against Thomas.
It's more of what we like to call County Craziness: Last month, Calderon and Thomas said that J. Scott Rhodes couldn't investigate Thomas because of alleged conflicts -- conflicts that Thomas called "troubling."
But it's apparently just fine to have Calderon work for Flores, who is supposed to be independent of Thomas.
If anyone cared about this situation, it would be Colin Campbell, the lawyer for Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who's one of the supervisors being looked at by Flores' office.
But, when asked if the Calderon-Flores relationship means anything, Campbell tells us, "Other than it's a small world, no."
Campbell says he sees no ethical or rule conflict in the relationship and won't make waves with the info.
For now, anyway.
After all, we don't know yet how Flores will handle the cases against Wilcox and Supervisor Don Stapley, which she assigned to a special prosecutor.
If Flores decides to press forward with an aggressive prosecution of Wilcox, we ask Campbell, would he then raise the issue of a possible Calderon-Flores conflict?
"I doubt I would complain about this later," Campbell says.
Mmm-hmmm. Just as we thought. He only doubts it.
That Campbell isn't more aggressive on the issue probably means he feels Flores' office will let his client off the hook. Campbell says the difference between dealing with Thomas and Flores is the "difference between night and day.
Flores, he adds, "listens to our side."
Legal conflicts, it seems, only exist when they're useful to exploit.