Arizona AG won’t pursue charges against ex-speaker’s staff
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona attorney general’s office said it won’t seek charges against anyone who worked for former House Speaker David Gowan for delaying the release of public records or making changes that apparently were intended to hide some expenses from the public.
The doctoring was discovered after the Arizona Capitol Times received records that showed the House had inappropriately paid for some lawmakers’ and staffers’ expenses after House Speaker J.D Mesnard took office, the newspaper reported.
Falsifying public documents and concealing or hiding a public recording are actions considered as a class 6 felony.
An employee who supervised the House accounting staff had ordered people to alter a master spreadsheet of expenses given to media, assistant attorney general Todd Lawson wrote in a memo turning down charges for the House aide.
The employee is still working at the House.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office announced Thursday that it could not criminally prosecute anyone since the records were obtained much later and by a different administration.
“The investigation has concluded that while there was a lengthy, unexplained and likely intentional delay in the production of the actual travel records, and while some efforts may have been made toward the goal of concealing certain trips’ records from production, in the end the records requested were produced,” Lawson said.
The Arizona Capitol Times had requested the records in January 2016.
Gowan’s administration sent the newspaper a master spreadsheet of the expenses, but refused to share the records that the spreadsheet drew from.
After Mesnard after entered the office, his administration completed the newspaper’s public records.
While statues say public records have to be turned over to requesters “promptly”, they do not specify what time frame constitutes as promptly.
The attorney general’s office decided in July not to charge Gowan.
However, Gowan did repay the state $12,000 to fix errors that he said a review found in his expense requests.
Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com