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End of a Smear

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Coach would have demanded that both Woods and Carey take extra laps.
The auditor general simply asked that steps be taken to correct the irregularities.

Fair enough.
The single-largest problem in the auditor general's investigation swirls around the annual Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon sponsored by the Attorney General's Office.

Woods and Carey arranged the banquet, raised money and disbursed scholarships. The details were handled by staff, but the responsibility was theirs.

The largest contributor, Arizona Bank, gave $15,000 over the years to the luncheon.

The donations were solicited by Mike Williams, a former campaign worker who landed a job at the Attorney General's Office.

After the luncheon was held and the scholarships distributed, excess funds were used for other causes. And this is the focus of the dispute about the MLK lunch.

Williams now claims he raised the money exclusively for the MLK event, and nothing else.

David Wright, who contributed the money from Arizona Bank, no longer remembers what was said to him when funds were solicited.

Carey is adamant that he told Williams tobe sure that Wright understood the donation was for the entire Event Fund, notjust the MLK luncheon.

"Look, I knew it was a simple matter to raise money for the MLK luncheon, and I didn't want Williams taking the easy way out," said Carey.

Tom Augherton, Woods' chief of administration, corroborated Carey's account in a notarized statement.

"I heard Mr. Carey give Mr. Williams a specific direction that the money that Mr.Williams was soliciting from David Wright in Tucson was to be for the attorney general Trust Fund and that it was not to be event-specific for the Martin Luther King Day event," said Augherton.

The county attorney and the auditor general chose to ignore Augherton's sworn statement. Instead, they slapped Carey for using excess funds from the MLK luncheon to underwrite other events.

It is not the auditor general, however, but the county attorney who brought the sense of scandal and outrage to the issue of how Rob Carey handled a few thousand dollars donated to the Attorney General's Office.

The fact is that Richard Romley is wound tighter than a cheap Mickey Mouse watch on the subject of Robert Carey.

Romley's investigation was supposed to be focused on an allegation of abuses of the Event Fund made by a disgruntled secretary.

Yet at his press conference, Romley admitted that his investigators combed through every aspect of Carey's public and private life.

Romley's investigators examined Carey's bank records; they asked questions about how his father made a living; they inquired about the young man's girlfriends in college; they picked apart his case load as a prosecutor; they tore apart his business deals.

What in God's name did any of this have to do with the mismanagement of the Event Fund?

Not a blessed thing. It was a witch hunt.
Far from demonstrating anxiety that hisbehavior might be likened to Joe McCarthy's, Romley used his press conference to make a speech extolling his ruthless pursuit of Carey.

Though his numerous investigations went nowhere, Romley repeated every sleazy allegation made against Carey and cast each in the nastiest light possible.

No ethical prosecutor conducts an investigation that produces no charges against a suspect, and then repeats unconfirmed--even disproven--gossip to smear the innocent man.

That is exactly what Romley did.
The very first thing Romley said at his press conference was that he had not acted out of a compulsion to extract vengeance from Carey in the wake of the Project SLIM fiasco.

After Romley's political benefactor, Governor Fife Symington, asked him to investigate allegations of bid-rigging in Project SLIM, the prosecutor agreed and found all parties innocent of any wrongdoing.

When the county attorney closed the books, Carey reopened the investigation, developing an airtight case of bid-rigging against the governor's personal accounting firm, Coopers & Lybrand, and Symington's deputy chief of staff, George Leckie.

On July 11, 1995, and again on July 17, the attorney general announced he'd extracted $750,000 in two separate settlements from the governor's cronies, humiliating Romley, who looked like he'd taken a dive for Symington.

Two days later, on July 19, Romley announced he was opening an investigation of Rob Carey and the Attorney General's Office.

To prove that his actions were not based on revenge, Romley held up at his press conference a pair of letters, dated March 12, 1995. Pointing to the letters, Romley declared that he had been quietly investigating Carey months before the SLIM settlements were announced.

In the ten months that Romley has relentlessly hounded Rob Carey, no single abuse of prosecutorial power by the county attorney is more reprehensible than the unethical investigation he launched, based on these foolish letters.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey