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Arizona Attorney General warns Cochise County Board of Supervisors of additional open meeting law complaints

The Arizona Attorney General has issued a strong warning to the Cochise County Oversight Board over ongoing public meeting law violations, writing to the board that it will consider additional complaints received as further evidence.

Attorney General Chris Mays said he continues to receive complaints about possible board and open meeting law violations, many of which focus on Republican overseer Tom Crosby.

Many of the complaints date back more than a year, Mays said in a letter to the board on Monday. She said she was concerned about Mr. Crosby’s conduct, and evidence presented to her office showed that Mr. Crosby had repeatedly ignored legal advice from the county attorney regarding possible violations of the public assembly law. said to show.

This letter will be considered as further evidence of an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the Board of Directors for any further possible violations of the Open Meetings Act, and will pursue all applicable penalties under the Act, and will seek to “remove from office.” include,” he concluded.[al of] Where appropriate, a public official holding public office.”

Arizona law Courts have said that if a court determines that a public official intends to deprive the public of information and willfully violates the Open Conference Act, the court can remove the official from public office.

The letter follows two other letters sent from the Attorney General’s Office to the Cochise County Oversight Board earlier this year regarding possible violations of the Open Meeting Act. A letter sent to the Board in February raised concerns over the Board’s conduct in 2022, citing three complaints the Attorney General received regarding the Board’s violation of the Open Meeting Act.

The first trial found that Crosby and Peggy Judd met behind closed doors in November 2022 to file a lawsuit against then-county elections official Lisa Mara in an effort to get the election 100%. claim. 2022 General Election Tally Audit. The letter says the complaint also alleges that the two supervisors met again without public notice several days later to drop the lawsuit. Mara later resigned in January, and his resignation was formally announced in February. The county was given 15 days to address Mara’s complaints about the hostile work environment. Mara is currently acting state elections director for the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

The last two examples refer to director Crosby’s comments and actions at two other public meetings. The first refers to Crosby’s comments at the Board’s Flood Control District meeting on July 26, 2022, where Crosby discussed topics outside the meeting agenda that were highlighted. Crosby discussed and questioned the legitimacy of the San Pedro Riverbank National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) during board discussions on the Coyote Wash Stormwater Management Project.

“All of this is based on the existence of SPRNCA and I say this is fraudulent,” Crosby said at the meeting.

On November 18, 1988, Congress designated the riverfront area as the San Pedro Riverfront National Preserve, according to the Bureau of Land Management’s website. The main purpose of this designation is to protect the desert ecosystem.

Crosby continued to debate and question SPRNCA’s effectiveness instead of discussing an agenda that referred to funding the Coyote Wash Stormwater Management Project, thus violating County Attorney General Christine Roberts’ Open Conference Act. It prompted Mr. Crosby to warn of the possibility.

The second lawsuit refers to Crosby’s remarks at the April 5 board meeting, where Crosby deviated from the agenda and entered into an agreement between Cochise County Health and Social Services and the Arizona Department of Health Services. referred to the extension of Crosby commented on natural immunity in people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Another concern about possible violations of the Open Meeting Act was highlighted in a letter sent from the Attorney General’s Office in March. The letter raised concerns about the Board’s actions at its February 28 meeting when it negotiated an agreement to have the Cochise County Recorder oversee the elections division for an interim period until the elections director is hired. Caused.

When discussions began on the agreement to transfer control over the County Elections Office to Cochise County Recorder David Stevens, Crosby referred to two different versions of the agreement, one being the “Crosby” version and the other being called the “Stevens” version. Supervisor Ann English said at that meeting that the public was unaware of the changes made from one version of the contract to the next, and that such changes were made in the contract published to the public. Said it wasn’t reflected in the version.

The Attorney General’s Office subsequently sued the Commission over the agreement, alleging that it illegally transferred the Commission’s statutory authority over elections to the county registrar. However, the state lost that argument because a judge denied the state’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the agreement. Since then, Stevens has served as interim electoral commissioner, holding special county elections to enact a 5-cent sales tax over 25 years to pay for the creation of prison districts and new county jails. 51.47% of voters approved prison districts and sales tax.

The board approved the appointment of new elections director Bob Bartelsmeyer in April amid concerns from voters over his credentials and social media posts regarding the 2020 election.

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