Home>Crime>Sparks Fly as DA Mitchell Refuses to Back Down
State Representative David Livingston speaking at the 2016 Arizona Manufacturing Summit at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona.
State Representative David Livingston speaking at the 2016 Arizona Manufacturing Summit at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Sparks Fly as DA Mitchell Refuses to Back Down

Livingston adds a demand for Mayes recuse herself from investigation

By Steve Kirwan, June 14, 2024 5:00 am

In the aftermath of announced investigations into Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs’ alleged “pay-to-play” scheme, Maricopa County DA Rachel Mitchell has refused Democrat AG Kris Mayes’ request to end her parallel investigation. The Arizona Globe reported on June 10, 2024, that Mitchell had opened an independent investigation into Gov. Hobbs’s alleged scheme, with impetus from a letter sent by Rep. Matt Gress (R-4).

The case revolves around a potentially illegal quid pro quo stemming from Sunshine Residential Homes’ $400K donation to the state Democrat party and Katie Hobbs’ election. After the election, Hobbs’ Department of Child Safety (DCS) authorized an increase in Sunshine’s daily rate payments for residential care, which the DCS denied to other providers. The potential crime came to light after an unrelated investigation into the death of a child under Sunshine’s care. The situation created a political firestorm, with state Republicans pouncing on Hobbs for corruption and abuse of power and her office returning verbal fire, accusing Republicans of “radical” partisan politics.

Mayes, also a Democrat, requested that Mitchell not “duplicate” the state’s investigation, immediately sparking a firestorm of Republican responses. After initial calls for an independent inquiry by Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope and Senate President Warren Petersen, Treasurer Kimberly Yee agreed. Yee expressed concerns that Mayes’s office may have “potential ethical conflicts of interest” due to its role as part of the Governor’s administration.

Rep. David Livingston (R-28) stepped up the pressure, recommending that Mayes recuse herself from the investigation. He contends that Mayes may have also benefited from Sunshine’s donations to the Arizona Democratic Party funding and referenced Mayes’ prior failure to pursue a complaint against Hobbs for using “public resources” prior to taking office.

Livingston sent a written statement to AG Mayes: “Your conflict of interest and mishandling of my complaint warrants your recusal from investigating the pay-to-play scandal because it likewise stems from Governor Hobbs’ unprecedented inaugural fundraising and political donations to the ADP. You have already proven that you will shield both the Democrat Governor and your own party from any liability.”

Mayes insists that the Attorney General’s office, not Maricopa County’s DA, has jurisdiction over these allegations.

She wrote, “As with any other investigation our office conducts, we will follow the facts wherever they lead us. As with everything else we do, we are also fully cognizant of our ethical obligations and have taken appropriate measures to protect the interests of all concerned, including directing the Department of Child Services to obtain outside counsel in this matter.”

It’s clear that these allegations have touched a nerve within the Hobbs administration, and Republican leaders appear to be poised to pursue them through every means available.

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