Maricopa County Craziness

More Nonsense From Thomas: Claims TV Reporter Revealed News of Lawyer's County Clients, but Judge had Ruled on Issue Months Prior

New setting, same old story.

Under oath while on the stand this morning in the his disciplinary "trial," former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas claimed that a TV reporter gave his office a great tip in its quest to investigate county "corruption."

The former Channel 15 (KNXV-TV) reporter, Josh Bernstein, did an "investigation" and found out about an attorney-client relationship "we weren't aware of" between the Superior Court and local lawyer Tom Irvine, Thomas testified.

Thomas has been trying to make as much hay as possible with the small, unspecific clues he and Sheriff Joe Arpaio later claimed were evidence of major malfeasance. Under questioning this morning from his lawyer, Brian Holohan, Thomas explained his suspicions about Irvine and the county's new court tower, (which is now under construction.)

Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon, the former county attorney's go-to gal who's also facing disbarment in these proceedings, have already described how they believed that Irvine was bilking the county out of big bucks, due to his being hired by the Superior Court to work on the construction project's planning.

After mentioning that he had "people complaining to the newspaper" about the court-tower project, he described Bernstein's helpful involvement.

But Thomas again appears to be simply repeating a tired story while overlooking known facts.

As former New Times scribe Sarah Fenske (now editor of the L.A. Weekly,) reported in February of 2010, Aubuchon even filed a special action in court about Bernstein's supposed revelation, which the news outlet published in June of 2009. Here's an excerpt from Bernstein's report:

Documents obtained exclusively by the ABC15 Investigators reveal Irvine and his firm are representing both the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who are funding the project, and the Maricopa County Superior Court, that will occupy the building.

In fact, Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe had in February of 2009 ruled on the very issue of Irvine's clients. From Fenske's article:

Judge Donahoe also found that Irvine's firm didn't have a conflict. Yes, his firm represented both the court on construction issues and the county on this matter. But whether Irvine's firm had "a potential conflict of interest in representing the Board," Donahoe wrote, "is a matter between [the firm] and the Board."

Just another piece of evidence that Thomas and Aubuchon, and not their accusers, are the ones who don't have their stories straight.

Thomas is now back on the stand after the morning break. Click here, then hit the link for the live proceedings.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.