Arizona AG To Probe Alleged ‘Pay-To-Play’ Scheme By Gov Hobbs’ Administration

The office of Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes has agreed to investigate allegations that Governor Katie Hobbs (D) and her administration used state funds to reward major campaign donors, according to reports based on a story published by the Arizona Republic on Wednesday. The decision to launch the probe comes in response to a letter sent by State Sen. T.J. Shope, R- District 16, expressing concerns about a potential “pay-to-play” scheme involving the governor.

In his letter to the Democratic attorney general, Shope requested an examination of the facts surrounding the Department of Child Safety’s alleged decision to approve a nearly 60% rate increase for Sunshine Residential Homes, a company that had made six-figure contributions to Hobbs’ inauguration fund and the Arizona Democratic Party. The GOP state senator suggested that the scheme may constitute bribery, fraud, illegal use of state money and a conflict of interest.

According to the Arizona Republic’s report, Sunshine Residential Homes received a substantial rate hike from DCS after making significant contributions to Hobbs’ inaugural fund and the state Democratic Party. The company had applied for a rate increase in December 2022, which was initially denied by DCS in February 2023. However, a second application for a rate increase in May 2023 was approved.

The report also noted that Sunshine CEO Simon Kottoor was on Hobbs’ inaugural committee and had contributed to her campaign, with his company even presenting her with an award about a month before her election.

In addition to the letter sent to the attorney general’s office, Shope also sent copies to the GOP Maricopa County attorney and the Department of Child Services director, seeking records that might shed light on the alleged scheme. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee chair’s letters, which were released publicly by the Senate, raised questions about possible violations of laws regarding bribery, fraud, procurement, conflicts of interest and illegal expenditures of state money.

As the Arizona Attorney General’s Office begins its investigation into the allegations against Gov. Hobbs and her administration, the outcome could have significant implications for the governor’s political future and the integrity of state governance.