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Arizona Republicans ask Maricopa County Attorney to take Hobbs ‘pay to play’ investigation

More Republican state officials are calling on Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell to investigate allegations of “transactional fraud” involving the Hobbs administration and Sunshine Residential Homes.

Democratic Attorney General Chris Mays has already launched an investigation following a letter from Senate President Pro Tem TJ Shopp after The Arizona Republic reported allegations that the group home company inflated per-child pay rates after donating about $400,000 to Hobbs' campaign, his inaugural fund and the state Democratic Party.

Mitchell, a Republican, also said he may launch an investigation after hearing from the Government Accountability Office.

“As Arizona Treasurer, I am responsible for the oversight, custody and management of Arizona's securities and investments, and I take that duty seriously. Arizona taxpayers deserve fiscal accountability and have a right to know how their money is being spent,” said Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican.

“Providing state funds to political donors is a serious misuse of public funds. 'Pay-to-play' and special favors have no place in state government.”

Yee said Mays falsely claimed he had sole control of any investigation.

“I have asked the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to conduct a separate investigation,” Yee said.

Mitchell, a Republican, also said he may launch an investigation after hearing from the Government Accountability Office. Getty Images

“The Maricopa County Prosecutor's Office has separate jurisdiction over this matter, and the ongoing investigation by the Attorney General's Office raises concerns about potential ethical conflicts of interest in representing state agencies and officials involved in the alleged scheme.”

In response, the attorney general said it was the state's role to investigate the allegations.

“As with any investigation my office conducts, we will follow the facts where they lead. As with everything we do, we are fully aware of our ethical obligations and have taken appropriate steps to protect the interests of all involved, including directing the Department of Child Services to hire outside counsel in this matter,” Mays wrote.

“Finally, while I am always welcome for you to raise any personal concerns with me, the matters that Senator Shope has asked me to investigate are in no way related to your statutory obligations. [state law].”

Gov. Katie Hobbs bowed her head in a moment of silence as people gathered for the Memorial Day ceremony.
The Centre Square reported on Monday that Attorney General Chris Mays has asked Mitchell not to launch his own proceedings to avoid a “parallel investigation.” Joe Rondone/The Republic/USA Today Network

Republican Rep. David Livingston of Peoria went a step further, saying Mayes should recuse herself from the case, saying she has clearly benefited from Arizona Democratic Party financial support before and that Hobbs failed to address complaints from him about using “public resources” before she took office.

“Your conflict of interest and mishandling of my complaint are legitimate reasons for you to resign from your investigation into the bribery scandal, which also stems from Governor Hobbs' unprecedented inauguration fundraising and political contributions to ADP. You have already proven that you will shield both a Democratic Governor and your own party from any liability,” Livingston wrote.

The Center Square reported on Monday that Mays is asking Mitchell not to conduct his own proceedings to avoid a “parallel investigation.”

During a media availability on Tuesday morning, Hobbs refused to answer questions about the allegations, including Center Square's question about whether he would comply with the requests of Mays and Mitchell if they were to investigate.

The attorney general's office said in an email to reporters Monday that it would not respond to Livingston's letter.

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