SCA Scandal: Some Donation Checks Could Trigger Criminal Charges; Companies Made Contributions


As we foreshadowed this morning, Captain Joel Fox turned in the canceled checks today as part of his settlement agreement with the Maricopa County Department of Elections. All of the checks are made out to the "Command Officers Association," (except for one made out to "C.O.A.")

But wait a minute -- didn't Fox tell us there was no actual "association?" And who told these fat cats who to make the checks out to?

Someone might be in big trouble -- maybe a few someones.

And what the heck -- there's a new donor's name here, a guy named Nicholas William Fergis, who gave $10,000 in a wire transfer to the SCA account in January of 2008. Yet Fox was supposed to have given all the donors' names in his original filing last month.

More to come after we call Jeffrey Messing, the county's hired gun who's helping to expose this scandal for the public...

... Okay, Messing wasn't much help. The only thing he would say is that he and county officials are "continuing to review the recent submissions."

It makes sense that Messing can't comment on where this case may be headed. After all, Messing is acting as the attorney for county elections on the civil matters. As we noted earlier today, donations by a company to something like the SCA could be considered a criminal matter.

Here's a breakdown of what you'll see if you click on the county link above:


* Steve Ellman wrote a check to the "Command Officers Association" on July 15, 2007 from the account of Steven and Kelly Ellman. At first glance, it appears to be a personal account. But the address, 4040 East Camelback Road, is that of Ellman's development-related businesses. In the memo field: "Donation."

Fox wrote in his disclosure last month that Ellman contributed his donation in April of 2007.

*WTG Investments in Anchorage, Alaska, paid $25,000 to the SCA on December 31, 2007. The only Alaska dude in Fox's previous list was Tom Gimple, who Fox said gave $25,000 on August 19, 2008. The address on Albatross is for a single family residence, and it's the same address Fox put down in July for Gimple.

Hmm, why are the dates on the checks from Ellman and the WTG different than what Fox told the public last month?

The best part of the WTG check is the check's memo field, which says "Vote for Sheriff Joe Arpaio." That's one potentially damning notation! Remember, Fox has been saying all along the SCA isn't a political committee and its purpose wasn't to influence an election. So who or what gave WTG the idea that this was going to help Arpaio? (Well, besides the fact that the group was called the Command Officer's Association...)

Plus, Internet records show WTG Investments is an LLC

Arizona law clearly states that an LLC cannot make a contribution with the purpose of influencing an election.

It's also worth noting that Fox didn't mention "WTG" in his July filing.

​* Next up is the check by Texas resident James Wikert, who gave $25,000 on April 15, 2007. The address, 200 Crescent Court, is that of "The Crescent," which bills itself as Dallas' "premiere multi-purpose business complex."

Wikert's memo field notation, like that of WTG's, is highly suspicious: "PAC contribution." Why would he think the SCA was a PAC?

The dates are screwy here, too: Fox's July filing says Wikert gave $25,000 on July 23, 2007, not in April of that year. And Fox also previously reported that Wikert gave another $5,000 on August 30, 2007. Where's the check or wire transfer info for that five grand? Not here.

* The check to the SCA from Liautaud Development Group, LLC, (at the top of this post) also includes the name "James J. Liautaud." Is that Liautaud, the CEO of Jimmy Johns sandwich chain, or his dad? Can't tell. But either way, the LLC part is troubling.

The $10,000 check is dated February 18, 2008. Fox's July filing lists only Liautaud's name (in yet another apparent deception on Fox's part) and is dated January 18, 2008.

* The $10,000 check from B.M. Rankin doesn't look like a personal check, either: It says "Operating Account" under Rankin's name. And it includes the address of 300 Crescent Court in Dallas. That's also a Crescent address.

So, maybe Wikert bumped into Rankin one day last year at the Crescent food court and told him about this really neat bank account in Arizona. But, golly gee, Wikert wouldn't have said anything about a "PAC contribution," right? (Rankin's check memo field just states "contribution."

Another date discrepancy: Rankin's check is dated August 1, 2007, and Fox's July filing puts Rankin's contribution as coming in on February 22, 2008.

* Finally, we have the new guy, Fergis. No copy of a check here, just the note from Fox that Fergis made a wire transfer in the amount of $10,000 on January 8, 2008. In July, Fox didn't list Fergis or the big January 8 donation. Good thing the county asked for more info.

Fergis is a self-employed investor from Scottsdale who also donated to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign last year. The Romney connection is worth mentioning because Liautaud also gave to Romney, who was supported by Sheriff Arpaio.

Ah, what a tangled web they weave...