Maricopa County Craziness

Shawn Nau, Maricopa County General Government Director, was Responsible for Leak of Joel Fox Records

Shawn Nau, Maricopa County's general government director, was responsible for leaking records about former deputy Joel Fox to the press in apparent defiance of a court order.

Though county spokeswoman Cari Gerchick told us last week that the leaker had received a written reprimand for his actions, it turns out that Nau only received "verbal counseling," (though documented in a written memo dated yesterday).

Superior Court Judge Sam Myers ruled in June that state law prohibits the release of internal investigation records until the appeals process is exhausted.

After the records were leaked to Arizona Republic reporter JJ Hensley, who soon published an article about them, the county declined to give the records to anyone else, citing Myers' ruling. County officials told New Times, the Associated Press and other media outlets that the person who leaked the documents would be disciplined.

And so he was, although it was just a slap on the wrist. We suspect no one at the county cared that the contents of Fox's notice of termination and appeal letters was published, but that a public scolding was needed to make it look like they were concerned.

Nau told his boss, Sandi Wilson, the deputy county manager, that he had no idea the Fox docs might be covered by the court order, says Wilson.

Seems hard to believe, but okay.

In the memo for the verbal counseling, Wilson dings Nau for releasing records without a written request (even though a written request isn't required under Arizona open records law), releasing a public record without authorization and releasing records without making sure any necessary blacking-out of non-public info has been performed. In this case, adhering to the latter stipulation would have meant none of the Fox records would have been released.

One of Nau's 22 friends on Facebook is Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, so it's not surprising he didn't think of us first when he decided to spill.

Two weeks after Nau gave the docs to Hensley, another judge ordered that all of the Fox material was to be made public.

New Times published those Fox documents this week for your reading convenience.

Nau's an experienced Maricopa County worker -- but not recently experienced. This summer, he returned to his old job at the county after a three-year stint as county manager for La Plata County, Colorado.

Nau pulls down big bucks at the county despite his occasional mistake. According to one Colorado newspaper, Nau took a "hefty pay cut" when he accepted the La Plata job, which paid $135,150 a year in salary, plus benefits.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern