Friday, October 24, 2008

State Representative Asks for A.G. Investigation into No-Bid Contract from Governor’s Office

Pearce Wants Probe of Work Referred to Firm of Tim Nelson’s Wife

PHOENIX, AZ – October 24, 2003 – In a letter sent to Attorney General Terry Goddard, State Representative Russell Pearce has asked for an investigation into a no-bid contract awarded by the Governor’s Office to the firm of Coppersmith, Gordon, Schermer and Brockelman. Maricopa County Attorney candidate Tim Nelson’s wife was and is a partner in that law firm and the contract was awarded while Nelson served as Governor Janet Napolitano’s general counsel.
“The awarding of legal services contracts in the amount of $326,000 to the Coppersmith/Nelson law firm by the Governor’s Office at the same time that Mr. Nelson was overseeing the legal matters of that office as General Legal Counsel to the Governor raises significant questions as to the legality of his conduct,” Pearce wrote in the letter.
The firm was hired by the Governor’s Office to investigate problems at the Arizona State Veterans Home. In another appearance ofconflict of interest, Coppersmith, Gordon, Schermer and Brockelman was representing the Veterans Home at the same time they were hired to investigate it.
Napolitano, in her former role as Arizona’s Attorney General, wrote an opinion addressing the awarding of contracts to the spouses of public employees - just like in this instance: “…public officers and employees should avoid any appearance of impropriety. Contracts with a public officer’s or employee’s spouse that are not subject to public bidding may raise questions about whether there was improper influence in letting the contract even though the public officer or employee made the required disclosers and was not involved in the decision making.”
“…the contracting provision should apply to spouses because Arizona is a community property state and the public officer or employee has an equal undivided share in community assets resulting from a spouse’s contract,” Napolitano also wrote in her 1999 opinion.
Pearce concludes the letter by stating, “As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I request that you conduct a thorough investigation of Mr. Nelson’s involvement in the awarding of these contracts to his wife’s law firm, and how he can claim to be both the Governor’s lawyer and yet shielded from knowing about legal services provided the Governor by the Coppersmith/Nelson law firm.”
A copy of Rep. Pearce's letter:

Documents from the Arizona Department of Administration showing that the reffered work came from the Governor's Office:

For more information, please contact Jason Rose or Jim Sharpe.

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