Phoenix police are investigating the alleged embezzlement of more than $75,000 from a campaign fund that belongs to Deputy Attorney General Greg Stanton.
The fund, which has no ties to Stanton's post in the Arizona Attorney General's Office, dates back to his days on the Phoenix City Council.
Police sources tell New Times that Mindy Shields, daughter of influential Phoenix lobbyist Billy Shields, is at the center of the investigation.
Mindy Shields served as treasurer for the "Friends of Greg Stanton" campaign account since 2001, according to political finance records filed with the Phoenix city clerk.
That account contains political contributions made to Stanton while he was running for a City Council seat. The unspent money remained in the account, and Stanton made donations from that account periodically to local non-profit organizations.
Hector Diaz, Stanton's attorney, tells New Times that "interested parties took pretty quick action" to address the missing funds and that nearly all the money has been put back into the account.
It's fortunate for Stanton since he is expected to resign from the AG's office in a few days and announce his bid for Phoenix mayor. He was no doubt counting on the money to help him launch his new political campaign.
Because of the ongoing police investigation, Diaz said he would not disclose the identity of the interested parties, how much of the money has been repaid, or the time period during which the money was taken.
Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump says the investigation is being handled by the department's Property Crimes division.
Stanton tells New Times that he became aware of the missing funds on October 12, some time after he asked Shields to make a $500 donation to Aguila, a nonprofit organization for college-bound Latinos. Shields wrote the check, but it bounced and someone from the organization told Stanton.
"I was surprised, shocked," says Stanton, who left the City Council in 2009 after nine years to accept the appointment in the AG's Office. "There should have been plenty of money."
A campaign-finance report that Sheilds filed on February 2, 2009, shows there should have been a balance of $92,770.98 in Stanton's account. Following that report, Shields submitted five others to the City Clerk's Office suggesting there was no account activity through
December 15, 2009.
All the campaign statements are signed by Shields, and with her signature, she certified that under the penalty of perjury, the information she was turning in was "complete, true and correct."
But if a $500 check bounced in October, that must mean the account already was drained by February 2, 2009.
Stanton says he went to the bank, confirmed that money was missing, and then went to the police. Stanton said he also has hired an accountant to make sure all the money is accounted for.
Going to the police was a painful decision, Stanton says, because the person tied to the "significant loss of funds" is someone he has known and worked with for many years.
Diaz says, "People should expect ... leaders to do the right thing, especially under difficult circumstances."
Shields could not be reached for comment.
Click here for an update.
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.