By Roberto Reveles
Note: Mr. Reveles addressed the Pinal County Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting on August 29. Following is a transcript of his comments.
During County Sheriff Paul Babeu’s administration, this member of the public frequently raised questions about the Sheriff’s exploitation of Pinal County taxpayers and our county’s public resources.
Unfortunately, public requests for credible audits of the PCSO have been ignored by the Board of Supervisors. It is, therefore, sad to note that, as a result of a federal grand jury, Arizona’s Auditor General has produced a damning report on how $2.4 million in RICO funding was recklessly distributed by previous County Attorney Lando Voyles and Sheriff Paul Babeu without adhering to proper procedures and guidelines and in apparent violation of county conflict-of-interest policies.
The State Auditor’s findings come as no surprise to those not under the partisan spell of the self-described law and order Voyles-Babeu team. Their outright arrogance on self-dealing was constantly on display. Whether it was a PCSO-controlled Public Safety Foundation officer publicly refusing to disclose details of Foundation finances; the dispensing of public funds for baseball tickets, dinner parties, Babeu-aggrandizing swag; to the spectacle of recipient community organizations trotted before the board of supervisors to recite praise for their county benefactors. We saw what was not hidden from view.
It is enlightening to note the Auditor General’s disclaimer that their limited scope prevented the State Auditor from expressing an opinion on Pinal County’s internal controls, suggesting that effectiveness and deficiencies of those internal controls remain unexamined. Who knows what else beyond the RICO probe remains to be uncovered.
Equally foreboding is the Auditor General’s statement that information on what appear to be violations of county conflict-of-interest policies has been forwarded to the Arizona Attorney General for further review.
Mr. Chairman, it should not take an FBI probe or federal grand jury to bring transparency and accountability to Pinal County. Once more, I ask this board to initiate a long overdue credible audit of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office operations to include its scandalous abuse of the federal military surplus program.
And I encourage the Board to terminate the county’s payroll deduction program that facilitates exploitation of county employee contributions to the shady Arizona Public Safety Foundation.
Fiduciary responsibility requires no less than a thorough audit of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
*District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios, after hearing Mr. Reveles comments in the Aug. 29 Board of Supervisors’ Call to the Public, directed County Manager Greg Stanley to follow up with a report on the Arizona Public Safety Foundation and its current status under Sheriff Mark Lamb.