Sunday, September 1, 2019

Arizona AG Suing Over Outrageous University Tuition Increases

There is a student debt crisis, but the solution is not providing free tuition courtesy of the taxpayers. As I’ve covered previously, it hasn’t worked in Sweden, where students merely take out loans for room and board instead. What few people are looking at is the massive increases in tuition by universities. This forces students to take out higher loans.
University tuition is skyrocketing everywhere. But tuition at Arizona public universities is about the worst. The Arizona State Constitution says that tuition at state colleges “shall be as nearly free as possible.” But since 2003, the Arizona Board of Regents increasedtuition and mandatory fees at the state’s three public universities by 315 to 370%. Tuition is now $10,792 to $12,228 per year. If you live on campus, the full price is $26,923 to $28,900 per year.
In contrast, the consumer price index increased only 36% over the same period. Median family income in Arizona increased only 27%. Tuition at other public 4-year universities around the country increased by around 100% — still far less than at Arizona’s public universities. Arizona public university tuition went from around the 25th percentile nationally to over the 75th percentile.
The regents arrogantly think they know best what is “affordable.” But they abandoned their responsibility to act as a check on the flagrant spending by university presidents. Since Michael Crow became president of Arizona State University in 2002, tuition has gone up dramatically.
The regents require students to pay for other, noneducational things in order to get an education. These include athletic, recreation, technology and health fees. Part time and online students are hit harder than full time students, with higher charges per credit hour.
Community colleges are about three times less expensive. This is evidence that the increase in tuition at the universities is not going to instruction, but rather other university pursuits. What are they spending the money on? Politically correct research and programs?
The universities waste money like it’s going out of style. University of Arizona President Robert Robbins gavean $850,00-a-year job to longtime friend Michael Dake last year. A man who was fired by Dake recently filed a notice of claim against the university, which stated that Robbins had been warned that Dake was not qualified for the position. The job oversaw the university’s medical schools. He said the search committee co-chair told Robbins the hire would be a grave mistake that “could very likely cost you your presidency.”
listwas compiled a couple of years ago of the highest paid state employees. The top 260 were all employees at state universities. The jobs were mostly related to sports or were in the medical industry. David Garcia, who ran as a Democrat for governor in 2018, made $82,063 annually for teaching only three classes that year at ASU. Two were online and the class he taught in person lasted only six weeks. He had time to campaign across Arizona, travel to Hollywood for a fundraiser and spend many days in Washington, D.C.
Arizona State University fired head football coach Todd Graham a couple of years ago, costingthe university $12 million to buy him out. The University of Arizona fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez about the same time, costing $6.28 million in a buyout.
At the same time, while Arizona residents are being ripped off, the universities are providing subsidized tuition for illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants who enroll in DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, are only required to pay 150% of the in-state tuition rate. But Arizona enacted Prop. 300 in 2006, which prohibits education subsidies to illegal immigrants. In addition, the Arizona Supreme Court ruledlast year that state universities and community colleges can’t offer in-state tuition to DACA recipients. But somehow, arrogantly, the regents have ignored that ruling. ASU even has a special pagededicated to DACA and other illegal immigrants.
Fortunately, Arizona has an attorney general who isn’t afraid to take on this racket. Arizona AG Mark Brnovich fileda lawsuit against the regents over the tuition increases and subsidies to illegal immigrants, which has been winding its way through the courts over the last couple of years. He is taking on some powerful interests, but he doesn’t care. He is a principled conservative who wants to actually solve the problem of the student debt crisis, not just put a band-aid on it like some Democratic candidates for president would do with their free tuition plan.
This isn’t the only lawsuit Brnovich has going against the universities. He also suedthem earlier this year for real estate projects by ASU that he says are illegal. ASU rents out its tax-exempt property to favored private businesses, Brnovich alleges. One of the biggestland deals was a development at Tempe Town Lake that State Farm occupies. Why are taxpayers subsidizing these private businesses?
The problem lies with the irresponsible regents who approve of the wasteful spending and tuition hikes. They are acting like typical Democrats who get into office and recklessly spend the public’s money. Brnovich says, “The costs for paying for college are going up faster than almost anything. Instead of demanding debt forgiveness, maybe it’s time to start asking what the hell are the people doing who oversee public universities. They’re out of touch. Nothing demonstrates that more than what is happening in Arizona.” The governor needs to appoint more accountable people as regents.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Local News Anchor Demonized Merely for Joining Parler

Phoenix Fox 10 anchor Kari Lake is under fire for a critical response to her superiors wanting her to delete her Parler social media account. Her remarks were accidentally caught on video. The Emmy-award winning anchor was about to do a Facebook Live with her co-anchor John Hook but didn’t realize the cameras had already started rolling. 

Hook told her that management at the station wanted her to hide her Parler account. “I think they just think it’s been branded as a far-right kind of place,” Hook said. “So they don’t want you tied in with anything like that, where you’re going to get blowback from the New Timesor whoever it is,” continued Hook. 

He was referring to The Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly known for an obsession with marijuana, sex, obscenity and a hatred of conservatives. The publication is fond of posting articles about pedophiles right next to articles critical of conservatives, as if they’re equally to be shunned.

Lake responded, “F**k them. They’re 20-year-old dopes. That’s a rag for selling marijuana ads.” “I know,” Hook said. “But then you’re in a position where they’ve gotta explain it or you’ve gotta explain it.” “I’m reaching people,” Lake said.

On Monday evening after the Facebook Live was broadcast, Lake did not appear in her usual 5 p.m. slot. The station may have fired her.

But Parler is not “far right.” It is billed as the free speech alternative to Twitter. It merely doesn’t censor people over politics like Twitter does. Plenty of people are on the site who decided to leave Twitter due to the bias against conservatives, which is probably why some associate it with the right.

This isn’t the only time Lake has hinted at having conservative views. Last year, she tweeted that the #RedForEd movement, which pushed for more school funding, was really a push to legalize marijuana. She later apologized for the tweet. 

It is shocking that Lake would be punished over this mere incident. Just one or two brief remarks alluding to the fact she might be a conservative? It’s no secret that the New Timesis a despised publication around town. Two former New Timesowners, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, are currently under prosecution for allowing the prostitution of minors on their site TheNew Times has long had a reputation for being slimy. New TimesEditor Stuart Warner mockedLake’s use of foul language, admitting, "Her language shows that she could work for New Times."

The reality is, it is very likely that news anchors don’t join Parler without getting permission from the station first. New Timesprobably pressured Fox 10 about Lake being on Parler.

This sets a bad precedent. It’s dictating that only those on the left can join left-wing sites, and only those on the right can join right-wing sites. And everyone in the media is supposed to be on the left so they can only join left-wing sites. 

It’s essentially making it a crime punishable by the forfeiture of your career to talk to people who are right of center. Fox 10 is being intimidated by the left. Lake is merely trying to communicate with people on the right. And this has nothing to do with her use of the f word. News anchors are caught on camera all the time slipping and saying a naughty word, and nothing happens to them. It’s not what she said, it’s where she is saying it, on Parler. If you try to talk to people right of center, then we’re coming for you. 

Why won’t Fox 10 stand up for its own people? Are the liberal bosses looking for an excuse to fire her? If she was a liberal who went on some left-wing social media site they wouldn’t care. 

It doesn’t make any sense in Arizona. If you’re trying to gain market share in a red state, why don’t you appeal to the middle? Especially since local Fox outlets have some affiliation with conservative Fox News. 

Lake’s Parler accountis still live. However, she did remove the link to Parler from her Twitter bio. She’s still off the air. Will the station back down and let her back on the air? She was a very popular news anchor. Pandering to the New Timesand ignoring the wishes of her viewers will only hurt the station’s popularity. Do they really want to put themselves in the same league as that rag?

Disabled Vet’s Home Saved: Predatory Home Buyer Cannot Seize Over Mistaken $405 Due in Taxes

It’s one of those stories you can’t believe is happening. The home of Jim Boerner, a disabled military veteran, was sold to a buyer over supposedly $405 past due in property taxes. He paid the $405 on June 13, well before the deadline he was given of June 30, but the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sold his mobile home anyway on June 20 for $4,400. They even put the wrong parcel number on the public notice of sale, which alone should have invalidated the sale.
The nightmare began earlier this year when Boerner received a notice that his taxes were delinquent on his home for 2017 and 2018. He called the Maricopa County Call Center about it on June 13 to make sure he didn’t lose his home. He was told he owed $405 for his 2017 taxes and $236 for 2018 taxes.
Unfortunately, he was not in the veterans’ exemption system, which would have reduced or eliminated the amounts. The call center employees told him he should pay the 2017 taxes immediately, but regardless had until June 30 to pay all of the taxes. So he paid the 2017 amount and put off paying the 2018 taxes until June 30.
However, just seven days later, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sold his mobile home to Lester Payne. A man showed up at Boerner’s door saying he was Alex Patron and that he had just bought the mobile home. He asked Boerner when he was going to move out. It turned out his real name was Lester Payne; he had given Boerner a false name.

The Heartless Predatory Buyer

When Payne learned about the unfairness of the situation, he cruelly offered to sell the home back for $15,000 — a nice profit of $10,600 for doing almost nothing. Boerner offered to pay Payne $5,000, giving him a profit of 16%, but Payne refused.
Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora was so disgusted, he offered to pay the $15,000 himself.
Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora was so disgusted, he offered to pay the $15,000 himself. But Payne raised the price to $26,000 — and then only if Boerner didn’t go public. When Boerner didn’t pay within 24 hours, he raised the price to $40,000 and threatened him with eviction.
Just a few days ago, he raised the price to $52,000 and served Boerner with homemade eviction papers, telling him he had five days to move out. Now, Payne says he will no longer sell the home back for any amount. He toldAZ Central, “I’m keeping the home. My grandma needs a house. She likes the (mobile home) park.”
However, the mother, Laura Payne, said that she had put $25,000 into the house and wanted that much for the mobile home.
Boerner told The Stream, “Whenever something unsavory happened to him, the price went up. He was trying to use the price of the home to put leverage on me, because it was his cash cow. When people started criticizing him on Facebook, he would raise the price. ”
Frustrated, Boerner told Payne he would go public with Payne’s criminal history if he didn’t work with him. According to AZ Central, Payne has felonies for aggravated assault, misconduct involving weapons, and endangerment, along with misdemeanors for driving under the influence and shoplifting. Boerner found 50 pages of criminal history on him.

The Predatory Buyer’s Stories Conflict

Payne told Boerner that he really needed the proceeds from this home — but then he got into a brand-new BMW. Some of the time Payne told Boerner that he was giving the mobile home to his mom. Other times he said it was for his grandma.
At another instance, Payne told Boerner he was going to move the mobile home out of the park since “nobody likes that park.” Turns out he never really intended for his mom or grandma to live in the park.
Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity.  Support The Stream » 
Boerner says the mobile home park ownership told him that Payne was not allowed there, because he’s tried the same thing on other properties in the park.
Boerner suffered spinal and brain injuries during a training exercise in 1991 at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. Because of them he is unable to work. He was hoping to live the rest of his life out in his mobile home. He’d thought he had enrolled in a program that lowers property taxes for people with disabilities and limited income. But the county assessor’s office could find no evidence of it.
Boerner told AZ Central, “It’s difficult. It’s just difficult. I love my home. I love my neighbors. … This was my nest egg, you know? That’s why I paid cash for it. This is where I was going to retire. And now I don’t have that assurance anymore.”

Help for the Vet

Boerner contacted several news organizations but said no one would respond except ABC-15 in Phoenix. Once they jumped on the story, it went viral. Cathy Mastrangelo, a consumer advocate with ABC-15 who worked on the case, wanted to know just one thing. She told The Stream,
Out of the thousands of overdue tax lien cases, just exactly how did Sheriff Paul Penzone or his proclaimed judicial experts select this one case out of thousands, to be sold at the tax lien sale tendays prior to the exact due date on the Notice of Tax Lien? It’s not like the majority of all the County elected officials and their deputies had not put this sheriff on notice as to this grievous error. It also appears to me that the sheriff has no concerns whatsoever as to fraudulent Certified Purchasers, who have no legitimate right to seize properties offered at even a legitimate lien sale.
State Rep. Bob Thorpe (R) held a hearing last Thursday to look into changes in state law regarding the amount of time mobile home owners are allowed to pay back taxes. They don’t get the five year period that single family homes do.

The Sheriff Could Help But Won’t

The treasurer’s office looked for a way to invalidate the sale but found they did not have the authority; it would be up to the sheriff. The sheriff could reverse the sale. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone had become sheriff after left-wing billionaire George Soros poured millions of dollars into the election to defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Penzone held a press conference on Wednesday to address the situation. He said that a call center operated by the county had given Boerner bad information when he was told he had until June 30 to pay the delinquent taxes.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone became sheriff after left-wing billionaire George Soros poured millions of dollars into the election to defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Penzone also blamed a new credit card processing system for the $405 payment not showing up before the sale took place. But does it really take seven days for a credit card to be processed? But that doesn’t matter. It immediately says “pending” when the payment is sent. He admitted that if his office had known about the $405 payment, it would not have allowed the sale to proceed.
The sheriff only has authority to sell homes due to delinquent taxes when directed by the treasurer’s office. He did not execute the warrant as written from the treasurer’s office, which had a date of June 30. 

Finally, a Solution

Sources say that Payne may now be willing to sell the mobile home back for $25,000. Flora offered to put up $15,000, and challenged Penzone to put up $10,000. A GoFundMe was started for Boerner.
But finally, the county attorney worked 0ut a way to save his home. The county attorney will work with Boerner to stop the eviction. And will go to court to get the sale reversed due to procedural errors. Fortunately, the right outcome prevailed. 

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Representative Thorpe on disabled veteran who lost his home because he was late paying his taxes

Arizona House of Representatives 
Representative Bob Thorpe (R-6) 
1700 West Washington ⚫ Phoenix, Arizona ⚫ 85007-2844 
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 
Representative Thorpe: We Must Look Out for Our Homeless and Vulnerable Populations 
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Representative Bob Thorpe (R-6) today released the following statement on looking out for homeless and vulnerable populations: 
“On June 28, just 6-days before our patriotic Independence Day celebration, a disabled American veteran lost his home because he was late paying his taxes. Although legal, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sold his mobile home out from under him even though he was only a few hundred dollars behind in his 2018 property taxes. Currently, mobile home property tax lien sales can occur much quicker than those for traditional homes. This is one of many issues that will be addressed at my Mobile Home Stakeholders meeting to be held on July 11 from 10 am to 4 pm at the State House. 
Homelessness is not only immoral, it is also expensive. It has been estimated that each homeless individual can cost society between $35,000 - $45,000 annually. Los Angeles and San Francisco have seen dramatic increases in homeless individuals and the size and number of their encampments, with associated outbreaks of disease and rat infestations. It is therefore in all our best interest to keep people in their homes, especially our most vulnerable disabled and elderly citizens and our veterans. Whether living in a mobile or a traditional home, our fixed-income seniors shouldn’t have to decide whether to pay their property taxes instead of buying food or prescriptions, or paying their summer air conditioning utility bills. 
With our 4th of July celebration in mind, the Declaration of Independence states that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ However, in an earlier draft, Thomas Jefferson instead used John Locke’s trinity of rights, that of ‘life, liberty, and property.’ 
Our nation’s Founders recognized the importance of private property ownership. Jefferson’s early draft implied that private property ownership was an individual right given by God, a right that could not be taken away or denied. The negative impacts of not 
being allowed to own private property is evident in the rampant poverty of our citizens currently living on the federally-controlled lands within our Native American nations. 
Sometimes, a mere $50 can mean the difference between an individual or family being forced to live on the streets. I call upon our veterans and elderly assistance advocates to please contact and partner with their local county assessor’s offices with offers of financial help for our most vulnerable citizens. 
I also call upon our law enforcement and government agencies to enact internal rules that help keep people living within their homes, for example, by helping them better manage their personal finances, referring them to groups and agencies for assistance, and by extending the timeframe prior to a property tax lien sale. 
My thanks especially go to Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora and his chief deputy Russell Pearce for their tireless work advocating for our fixed-income seniors and this disabled American veteran.” 
Matthew Specht 
Director of Communications 
House Republican Caucus 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

VIDEO: Wrongly Imprisoned Former Rep. Rick Renzi Tells His Story

Monday, April 1, 2019

Facts, Not Myths Back National Popular Vote’s Surge in Popularity

Ronald Reagan was reportedly fond of referencing the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Monahan’s admonition, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Today, that would most particularly include opponents of the growing drive to enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would award 270 electoral votes and the presidency to the candidate who wins the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Of all the myths conjured up by naysayers to try and torpedo the compact, perhaps the most egregious portray the measure as either unconstitutional or an effort to eliminate the Electoral College. Both are patently false.

The compact isn’t the same thing as the national popular vote that the 2020 presidential candidates are calling for. The compact is 100 percent constitutional and consistent with the intent of the Founding Fathers, who explicitly gave states the authority under the Constitution to form agreements among themselves for any number of reasons. There is no issue with the states usurping the power of the federal government.

Moreover, while some reform advocates argue for elimination of the Electoral College through a long and cumbersome effort to amend the Constitution, the compact preserves the Electoral College intact, exactly as the Constitution specifies. In fact, the compact states that if the Electoral College is done away with, the compact goes away.

Under the Constitution, states are free to award their electors in any way they see fit. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution either mentioning or mandating the current winner-take-all system by which most states award their electoral votes. The Founding Fathers never approved it. By entering the compact, the states agree to direct their Electoral College votes through a popular vote.

The myths and falsehoods aren’t limited to the Constitution and the Electoral College. Another falsehood imagines the votes of large, populous states running roughshod over smaller, less populated states. This is patently untrue. More people live in rural areas and small towns than in the big cities. If Republicans direct their campaign efforts in the former areas, they should be able to win the popular vote, since they dominate those areas. Right now, they direct their energy at the swing states instead.

Under the current system, we don’t so much elect the president of the United States as we do the president of the battleground states. The 12 states where the candidates spend virtually all of their time — and money — chasing blocks of electoral votes that can swing back and forth every four years. The other 38 states and the District of Columbia — encompassing roughly 70 percent of the population — are ignored because they are so faithful in voting either Republican or Democrat every four years.

In an election fought under the compact, the 12-state election model becomes a 50-state contest in which candidates are compelled to chase down every single voter in every nook and cranny of the nation. The states are essentially working with other states to make their votes more relevant.

Oregon is a good example of why the compact is needed. Over the last eight presidential elections from 1988 to 2016, a total of 5,429,496 Oregonians cast their popular votes for the Republican ticket. And in all of that time, their efforts have failed to produce one single GOP electoral vote. Because eight out of eight times, the Democrat ticket won Oregon’s popular vote and all of its electoral votes.

Under the compact, voters gain a direct voice over the disposition of the 270 electoral votes. No voter in any state would have their vote cancelled out because they didn’t go along with the majority of others in their state. Every voter would have their vote counted directly toward their choice for president. And the presidential candidate who gets the most popular votes would become president.

Florida is gradually becoming more Democratic, as Puerto Ricans move into the state and overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Republicans are going to lose this swing state and will be unable to win presidential elections through the existing system much longer. It’s a good time to switch. The movement in support of the compact is gaining momentum with Delaware and New Mexico having just passed bills joining it for a projected total of 189 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to switch to the compact (a majority of the 538 electoral votes). It has bipartisan support because Democrats erroneously think large cities will end up deciding elections. Republicans need to do their homework on this issue before blindly repeating falsehoods.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

State Bar Mandatory Unions for Attorneys are Finally Being Dismantled

An effort started a few years ago to eliminate the unionlike, mandatory nature of state bars. These associations have become increasingly politicized, spending members’ dues for partisan purposes that always go against Republicans. This is illegal, since the 1990 Supreme Court decision Keller v. State Bar of California decision held that mandatory members of state bar associations have a First Amendment right not to subsidize political or ideological activities. Additionally, in the 27 states with right-to-work laws, attorneys aren’t supposed to be required to join a union in order to practice law.

In order to practice their profession, attorneys should be required to go through no more than a licensing agency. But somehow, these illegal state bar unions have thrived in 31 states. The other states have voluntary bars and do just fine.

The existence of these politically motivated state bars has finally started getting attention due to their targeting of conservative attorneys and spending members’ dues on partisan activities. In Arizona, the state bar disbarred a popular conservative district attorney in order to stop him from cracking down on illegal immigration with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After that happened in 2012, conservative attorneys in Arizona tell me they are terrified to write articles, tweet or say anything publicly for fear of having the left-wing wing state bar come after them. Almost no one dared to defend the disbarred attorney, not wanting to make themselves a target of the bar.   

In North Dakota, the state bar got caught spending a significant amount of money opposing a shared parenting ballot initiative. A small but motivated group of unscrupulous family law attorneys who are heavily involved in state bars stand to lose a lot of money in client litigation fees if shared parenting goes into effect. They heavily influence state bar lobbying in this area. An attorney filed a lawsuit, assisted by the Goldwater Institute, which made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The high court ordered the trial court to decide the case in accordance with Janus v. State, County, and Municipal Employees, which held that public sector unions cannot collect dues from people who do not want to be a member of the union. While state bars are not governmental, they act quasi-governmental and are granted a virtual monopoly over the legal profession. Illinois, where Janus arose, is not a right-to-work state.

In Oregon, the state bar ran a piece in its bulletin that appeared to tie President Trump to the promotion of white nationalism, while sanctimoniously denouncing white nationalism in an adjacent second piece. After a backlash, the state bar provided a refund of $1.12 — the cost of the bulletin — to any member that requested it. Based on Janus, two attorneys in Oregon sued the state bar alleging that mandatory dues infringe on their First Amendment rights to free speech. They said the dues unconstitutionally pay for political and ideological speech they disagree with. Oregon is also not a right-to-work state.

In multiple states, bills have been proposed to split up mandatory state bars. Unfortunately, the state bars are very powerful, backed by the inflated membership dues of attorneys, allowing them to afford the best lobbyists to resist the efforts. This is the case in Arizona, which has the second highest mandatory annual bar dues in the country after Alaska, $505. Ironically, the Arizona State Bar was forced to raise dues in order to pay for the show trial against the district attorney it disbarred. Bills are unable to make it out of both Arizona legislative houses due to the powerful lobbying efforts of the state bar. Disgusted with the corruption, the Goldwater Institute, which is headquartered in Arizona, asked the Arizona Supreme Court in January to eliminate the mandatory nature of the Arizona bar.

A couple of states have had success breaking up their mandatory state bars. Nebraska split its bar in half a few years ago. Now only the regulatory side is mandatory. The California legislature split the California Bar into two pieces with a bill in 2017. Like Nebraska, the mandatory part will retain the regulatory functions. The trade association activities, which include working on legislation, are being transferred to a voluntary nonprofit entity.

It is unfair that in order to practice law, attorneys in 31 states are required to be members of unions that engage in partisan political activity against members’ interests. Fortunately, the tide is finally turning and these corrupt organizations are starting to be dismantled. Just because the thugs running the state bar unions wear white collars does not mean they are any less union thugs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Arizona Governor’s Office Was Warned About State Vendor Who Allowed Woman in Vegetative State to Be Raped and Get Pregnant

Hacienda Healthcare of Arizona is under local and national fire after a San Carlos Apache womanin a vegetative state gave birth to a child a couple of days after Christmas. Hacienda Healthcare CEO Bill Timmons resigned a week ago after the major scandal was unveiled due to a frantic 911 call and a healthcare whistleblower. The nonprofit corporation, which was founded in 1967, possesses a lucrative state contract with the State of Arizona and receives over $20 million annually in taxpayer funding to take 24x7 care of its severely developmentally disabled citizens.

The State of Arizona has had a problem since the last century with corrupt vendors on contract and the enabling swamp politicians that enable and run interference for them. New state agency directors rarely challenge the status quo due to the influence and power of special interests. Numerous state vendors contribute directly and indirectly to the very Republican and Democrat elected officials that should oversee them on behalf of hardworking taxpayers. The few state agency directors who actually embark on reform and house cleaning are forced out one way or another, typically at great cost to their respective reputations. In Arizona, as is the case with other states plagued with endemic corruption, long-time vendors have developed a cozy relationship with the elected state officials and appointed bureaucrats, which ensures the vendors' multi-million dollar contracts are seamlessly renewed, accountability is spartan, scandals are buried and the reformed are destroyed.

The state government officials and social services bureaucrats in Arizona have known for years that Hacienda Healthcare had various issues. In the first month of his directorship of the Arizona Department of Economic Security in early 2015, based on input from the management of the Division of Development Disabilities, AZDES Director Tim Jeffries identified Hacienda Healthcare as a “threat” in his first DES SWOT analysis. Throughout 2015, Jeffries, a prolific communicator, consistently noted to the Governor’s office that Hacienda was a problem. More specifically, Jeffries and his restructured leadership team were completely dissatisfied with and increasingly alarmed by the interactions with the combative and often belligerent CEO Bill Timmons. As state-to-vendor relationship deteriorated, primarily as it pertains to financial transparency, Jeffries made the decision to plan the termination of the vendor contract and transfer of the client patients, some of Arizona’s most vulnerable and defenseless, to other facilities.

Jeffries communicated his intentions to the Governor’s office and strongly recommended to the State Attorney General’s Office that Hacienda should be investigated for millions of dollars of suspect billings. Jeffries’ audit team in his inspector general’s office found that the nonprofit corporation overbilledstate government, therefore Arizona taxpayers, approximately $4.3 million in one just one year alone. Arizona DES audits accused Hacienda of overbilling the state in 2014 for wages, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance and supplies. The cost of treating a patient was nearly three times (3x) the national average. Haciendacharged$386,000 as compared to $134,000 per patient in similar developmentally disabled care facilities. The fact that Timmons and his team would not provide 2015 financial data to DES as required by law was another giant red flag to Jeffries.

In March and April of 2015, DES executives briefed Jeffries on Timmons and Hacienda, and warned Jeffries not to cross Timmons due to his vast political connections. Timmons frequently boasted about his connections to Governor Doug Ducey, who he brashly referred to as “my good friend Doug” and the key members of the Governor’s Office like Kirk Adams, the Governor’s Chief of Staff and former Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. Timmons also consistently threatened to use his “extensive political connections” with top Republican and Democrat politicians in the Arizona Legislature to get his way, protect his business, shut up anyone who crossed him and have them fired.

Public records show that Timmons donated $4,000 to Governor Ducey’s campaign in 2014 and 2016. Timmons also gave thousands to other elected officials. What is not known, perhaps will never be known, is how much Timmons, his businesses, his associates, his friends and family gave to 501c4 “dark money” groups where contributors and contributions are not legally required to be reported. Jeffries’ chief law enforcement officer Charles Loftus, a former top special investigator for the Arizona Attorney General, observed in a written statement, “...there was an extraordinary level of anxiety by the DES staff that Mr. Timmons was a friend and donor of Governor Ducey. I personally confirmed Mr. Timmons made several donations to the Governor’s campaign using several variations of his name and different addresses.” If the total amount exceeded campaign finance limits, it is a violation of law. Jeffries recently toldABC 15 in Phoenix, "Timmons was intemperate, he was belligerent, he was abusive, he was a terror to our staff and God only knows how to his staff."

Tragically, the recent horrific sexual assault and pregnancy of a vulnerable and defenseless 29-year-old Apache woman isn’t the first time Timmons tried to cover up abuse of a patient. According to a former Hacienda manager, Timmons didthe same thing with another patient scandal in 1988.

Jeffries and Loftus believe their investigation of Hacienda contributed to their ousters the day before Thanksgiving in 2016. Not long after Jeffries and Loftus were fired, the Arizona Attorney General criminal investigation they pushed for was halted. "I was ousted as a result of a manufactured crisis, to shut me up and make me go away. Well, I'm not gonna shut up and I'm not gonna go away," Jeffries saysnow. Those who know his life story and work for crime victims know how serious and formidable he is.

Jeffries and Loftus have a joint lawsuit pending against the State of Arizona. In their joint lawsuit, they specifically site their work to root out state government corruption with multimillion dollar vendors like Hacienda as a major reason for their political deaths. During his 21 months of service, Jeffries and his inspector general team took down several public officials for fraud, most notablya member of the Arizona Legislature. As a result, the Governor’s Ooffice became increasingly uncomfortable with Jeffries’ crusader approach to public fraud, waste and abuse. Even the Arizona Attorney General’s Office became weary of Jeffries and his team’s passionate commitment to investigate and prosecute fraudsters. When Jeffries and Loftus were ousted, the criminal investigation was turned over to government healthcare bureaucrats for a civil investigation — and all discussions regarding terminating Hacienda as a state vendor ceased in late 2016.

Due to their support in the Arizona Legislature, Jeffries and Loftus were scheduled to testify about another major corruption issue in February 2017 and the Governor and his team blocked their testimony despite Arizona’s State Constitution clearly outlining separate but equal branches of government.” Jeffries and Loftus mentionthis scandalous act in their lawsuit.

Police have obtained a warrant allowing them to collect DNA from the male caregivers working at Hacienda and will surely expand the search warrant to former male caregivers if a match is not found. In the meantime, the Governor Office announced the Hacienda facility will no longer be assigned new client patients, a directive that Jeffries issued over two years ago that was irresponsibly rescinded shortly after Jeffries departed. The Governor says it is exploring all options regarding Hacienda, including appointing a third party to run the facility.

It’s unfortunate it took the rape of an innocent and defenseless woman with profound developmental disabilities to bring to light the problem of crooked vendors and the political swamp where they flourish. Powerful interests like Hacienda should not be above the law nor should the very politicians who fund and protect them. Jeffries believes if the Ducey Administration had followed through with his direction to terminate Hacienda's state contracts and pursue criminal charges, the rape never would have occurred. In the meantime, Governor’s Office stated late last week, “We have and will continue to take a very aggressive approach when it comes to Hacienda.”