Don Stapley Conflict Erases Trust, Despite Smarmy Surrender by "Backstabbing" Andy Thomas, Says County


Maricopa County leaders had little but cyncism for  the surprising announcement by County Attorney Andrew Thomas this morning to hand off the Don Stapley prosecution.

Trusting Thomas will be difficult despite his call for peace, says County Manager David Smith, who somehow wound up under criminal investigation during the fight. Smith says the county attorney is only caving now because he's already lost.

Thomas "is waving the white flag of surrender because his conflicts have been discovered by two different judges," says Smith, according to county spokesman Richard De Uriarte. Whether the board accepts Thomas' offer to have the dispute mediated will be up to the board, he says.

"This entire case has been one of the biggest backstabbing cases that I have seen," Smith says. "How do you build back trust with the Board?"

Wade Swanson -- director of the county's new civil lawsuit bureau, created to thwart Thomas' attack on the Board of Supervisors -- says Thomas' move "reeks of a political decision, not an ethics decision."

"I don't know why the county attorney didn't do this months ago," Swanson says. "It's too little, too late. He's boxed himself into a corner and realized that he's losing in court."

De Uriarte also forwarded an e-mail to New Times with comments from Max Wilson, chairman of the Board of Supervisors...




From Board Chairman Max Wilson:

"The Board of Supervisors welcomes this long overdue action by Andrew Thomas. We believe this action should have taken place months ago. Tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted getting Mr. Thomas to this point.

Why wouldn't he talk to us before? In the four years since he has been County Attorney, he has never been in my office or allowed me in his, so I find his timing interesting."

On mediation: "There is a lot of dirty water under the bridge but in the interest of good government, I'll talk, but I am not optimistic."

And from Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox:

On mediation: "Our door has always been open but it will be a long mediation to overcome the mistrust that has developed over the years. Our attorney has to be our trusted confidant."

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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.