Another Election Year, Another State Bar Smear of Andrew Thomas

It’s “Groundhog Day,” Except This Time They Don’t Even Pretend To Be Fair

PHOENIX, ARIZONA. JUNE 17, 2010.  In a situation reminiscent of the movie “Groundhog Day,” former Maricopa County Attorney andRepublican Attorney General candidate Andrew Thomas announced today that for the second consecutive election cycle, the State Bar of Arizona is abusing its powers and violating its own rules to target him in an effort to influence the upcoming election.
In 2008, the State Bar launched 13 investigations of Thomas and his deputies when he was up for reelection as County Attorney.  All of these were eventually dismissed.  But this happened only after the State Bar, for the first time in its history, was forced to appoint an outside investigator to handle the investigations.  Subsequently, the State Bar’s chief bar counsel resigned, and the Arizona Supreme Court completely overhauled the attorney discipline system in Arizona.  Overseen by the state Supreme Court, the State Bar is a liberal organization run largely by attorneys who specialize in representing criminals as well as advocates of illegal immigrants and other liberal social causes.  They also oppose his calls for judicial reform.  Thomas is a well known opponent of illegal immigration and many liberal positions the state bar support.
Many of the same people behind the first wave of frivolous Bar investigations in the 2008 election have reassembled to bring a second round of investigations against Thomas as he runs for Attorney General in 2010.  This time, Thomas is being denied legal counsel to respond to these frivolous complaints, and the appointed investigator does not care.
Earlier this year, Thomas retained the highly-respected Ernest Calderon, former President of the State Bar and a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, to assist him in responding to a plethora of complaints initiated by the State Bar and an association of liberal attorneys for criminals.  These investigations were referred by Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch to Colorado Bar investigator John Gleason.  Subsequently, a Maricopa County agency that reports to County Manager David Smith essentially fired Calderon as Thomas’ attorney.  Smith is one of the individuals who filed a Bar complaint against Thomas. Mr. Calderon’s county contract was terminated without explanation, effective the end of May.  He is widely considered to be one of the most reputable attorneys in Arizona and, politically, shares few of Thomas’ political beliefs.
When informed of this development Gleason agreed in pleadings before Probable Cause Panelist Charles “Bud” Jones to allow Thomas adequate time to retain new counsel and respond to Gleason’s questions.  However, less than two weeks later, Gleason reversed himself and demanded answers from Thomas “immediately.”  In a subsequent telephone conversation, Gleason was asked to explain this abrupt turnaround.  The placeholder attorneys handling the Thomas matters after Calderon’s firing noted the unfairness of allowing “the very party that initiated a substantial number of the allegations and charges against respondents” to terminate Thomas’ counsel.  Gleason hung up the phone on these attorneys.
Also, Gleason has refused to provide Thomas with a copy of the State Bar’s complaint against him. This denial violates the written policies of the State Bar, as stated on the organization’s website, which provide that the attorney shall receive a copy of any complaint before being required to respond.
Recently, counsel for Thomas learned that Gleason and a colleague reportedly stayed for three weeks at the Arizona Biltmore, one of America’s most exclusive resorts, apparently at the expense of the State Bar.  The State Bar is one of the complainants against Thomas, and Ed Novak, former State Bar President and a current prominent official at the State Bar, is an attorney for the County Board of Supervisors and Smith, another complainant against Thomas.  Despite these conflicts of interest, Gleason has stated he intended to interview 75-100 people—all apparently critics of Thomas—during his luxurious stay in the Valley.  Such activity as part of a Bar “screening investigation,” so described by Gleason, apparently has no precedent.
Like State Bar counsel in 2008, Gleason has demanded answers regarding numerous frivolous matters, including some already investigated and dismissed by the State Bar in 2008.  Now, employees for one of the complainants have denied Thomas counsel to assist him in responding to these questions.  Likewise, Thomas cannot properly appeal the matter to the Supreme Court for lack of effective assistance of counsel.
The apparent motivation for Gleason’s rushing the investigations is to influence the 2010 election for Attorney General—by leveling public allegations against Thomas’ ethics, allegations to which he cannot even properly respond.
“Well, it’s Groundhog Day, again,” said Thomas.  “Another election year means another State Bar smear.  And this time they don’t even pretend to give due process.”
He added, “This rush to judgment by the State Bar and Gleason to affect an election is outrageous.  This is the second time this has happened in as many election cycles and shows a clear need for complete reform of the system.”
A former State Bar President and Probable Cause Panelist for the Bar, Calderon has stated in pleadings that these events are denying Thomas due process of law in violation of the Constitution.
Thomas has promised to pursue judicial and State Bar reform if elected Attorney General to improve the accountability to the public of judges and attorneys.  Thomas has stated that the State Bar, an arm of the state judiciary, targets critics of the judiciary and supports liberal causes with mandatory attorney’s fees, abuses he says he will seek to end.


Paid for by Thomas for AG


  1. When is something going to be done about the Arizona State Bar Association? It has been under the control of liberal criminal defense attorneys like Ed Novak for years. They initiate complaints against conservatives, then adjudicate those complaints. It’s like having the fox guard the henhouse. I hope Thomas reforms the bar too. I’d prefer to see it disbanded and made voluntary. Right now they take hundreds of dollars in mandatory dues from attorneys every year that go to politically correct causes and witchhunts against political conservatives like Thomas.

  2. Arizona Ranger says

    The above statements concerning Andy Thomas are just more fuel on the fire as to why we desparately need a guy like Thomas to take on and truly reform the Arizona State Bar! The State Bar is run by egotistical and power seeking attorneys who have little regard for the law and for being properly responsible. It is truly the “fox guarding the hen house”. I am sick to death of people attacking Thomas for his actions! He did exactly what we would expect an ethical and responsible county attorney to do: He went after the bad guys!!
    Oh yes, he has taken a lot of heat from the establishment, but THEY ARE THE PROBLEM! We absolutely need to get behind Thomas and put in the State Attorney’s office… and stand back for some long overdue changes and reform. His opponents are attacking, not for legal reasons, but because they are SCARED!! They know Thomas has the cajones to come after them and they are running scared!!
    Andy Thomas-ethical, strong, responsible, and moral. Folks, we could not ask for a better State Attorney!!

  3. Jack Hammer says

    Andy has principles and courage!

    That’s why the establishment must destroy him!

  4. I just wanted to take a moment to respond to some of the information contained in the Thomas release:
    1. The allegation that the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors is “…a liberal organization run largely by attorneys who specialize in representing criminals as well as advocates of illegal immigrants and other liberal social causes.”
    -The board has 26 voting members. Four of those are prosecutors in various state and county offices. Two others represent the governor and ASU. There are four public members with backgrounds ranging from international business to human resources. Two others are at-large non-lawyers. Of the remaining attorneys only three practice in the area of criminal defense. As for leadership, Two of the five officers are prosecutors and a third works with the governor.
    2. “…evidence has mounted that former members of the Maricopa County judiciary improperly enlisted the State Bar”
    -To my knowledge, no one has presented any evidence. Both the Bar and the Supreme Court would be happy to review any evidence.
    3. “Many of the same people behind the first wave of frivolous Bar investigations in the 2008 election have reassembled to bring a second round of investigations against Thomas as he runs for Attorney General in 2010.”
    -In fact, both the make up of the board shifted and the executive staff is very different than 2008. The current CEO, John Phelps, came on board in February of 2009. There is also a different Chief Bar Counsel (who is the person responsible for leading Bar investigations).
    4. “Ed Novak, former State Bar President and a current prominent official at the State Bar.”
    -As past Bar President, Novak was a non-voting member this past year and is no longer on the board.
    5. “Recently, counsel for Thomas learned that Gleason and a colleague reportedly stayed for three weeks at the Arizona Biltmore, one of America’s most exclusive resorts, apparently at the expense of the State Bar.”
    -As was reported in the Arizona Republic this morning, “Gleason said he obtained a rate of $89 per night and pointed out that he is charging $40 per hour for his services – hundreds of dollars less than the going rate for attorneys.”
    6. “The State Bar’s chief bar counsel resigned, and the Arizona Supreme Court completely overhauled the attorney discipline system in Arizona.”
    -There is no evidence that the resignation of the former chief bar counsel was a result of the investigations. The overhaul of the attorney discipline system was not a reaction to the Thomas investigation, but rather an attempt to both improve and streamline the system to allow for quicker and more efficient resolutions. The new rules are not yet official but should take effect next year.
    I cannot speak to the investigation being performed by Mr. Gleason because although we are paying his bill, we have no contact. His investigation is being done independently of the bar with no influence whatsoever. Mr. Gleason did speak with Michael Kiefer of the Arizona Republic and denied the allegations raised by Mr. Thomas.

    Rick DeBruhl
    Chief Communications Officer
    State Bar of Arizona

  5. Isn’t Rick DeBruhl that shill for the Board of Stupidvisors from one of local low talent news stations? I seem to remember some of his crap stories supporting the board. He is right there in a league with yvonne wingnut from the republic. Look like he fits right in with the liberal State Bar. Interesting they need a lobbyist/communication dir

  6. Jane 001 says

    While it’s nice to know who’s new on the Bar and how much of a bargain you can get at the Biltmore, Mr. Debruhl’s remarks don’t shed much light on most important issues at hand:

    – Was Thomas denied a copy of the complaints?
    – Was counsel for Thomas improperly dismissed by a third party?
    – Are some of the same complaints fortuitously being brought in an election year?
    – Are some of the previous complainants making these allegations?
    – Did Gleason disadvantage Thomas unfairly by reneging on an extension of time?

    State Bars are entities by, for, and unto themselves, and it’s very easy for them to self-corrupt. It may well be time for a voluntary state Bar Association.

  7. The Mole says

    Legislators are watching this process closely in the even new legislation is required to correct any problems. There have been concerns about the State Bar for sometime now. Maybe it is time for a new system. This one is too easily abused.

  8. How is it when Thomas has complaints filed but dropped, it is the evil Bar who is out to smear him and abuse their power BUT when it is Thomas who has brings the frivolous and improper charges against others (time and again only to be thrown out over and over, even to the extreme as to have a judge label it is politically motivated and for retribution) he is again the victim?

  9. Ann:

    Does it ever occur to you that the same people who routinely drop Thomas’ charges are of the same crowd which brings action against him?

    Quit trying to hide it!

    We’ve got a battle between law enforcement (Arpaio and Thomas on one hand) and law avoidance (the Open Borders business crowd on the other)

    The rank and file of the party will decide on August 24th which side will call the shots.

    I’m for the former!

  10. Yeah, right. says

    I can hardly wait until this guy is gone from the political scene.

    The damage the Joe and Andy show has done is tremendous, and as a taxpayer of Maricopa County I am tired of paying for it.

    Now that he bailed and ran off, I am glad to vote against him.

    The faster he is gone, the faster we can elect some folks who will do the job, instead of grandstand and do stupidity.

    The Bar has been far too easy in my book.

  11. @Carlist: Amen… I’m for that too…When will people wake up? We need tough law enforcers or our society will perish, we are at a crossroads right now. Morals/rule of law are being thrown out the window, we need these things for the basic function of our American way of life.

  12. There is no argument that can be made that the State bar is anything but a liberal organization. They force a diversity director down evryone throats and give away thousands of money to liberal causes. They have always gone after public lawyers while ignoring big civil attorney violations. They also go out of there way to kiss up to judges.

  13. EastValleyPC says

    I read DeBruhl’s comments and it read like a paid spokesperson for a (fill in the blank) organization. Hey, Rick I bet BP is looking for a few good paid mouthpieces.

  14. Inappropriate Term says

    CARI GERCHICKLET IS THE (whoops, did I just write that?) BOS spokesmoron. Rick is a seasoned professional who perhaps has taken her place? Rick above admits the current Bar complaint system is flawed, but it looks like they’re fixing it as soon as the damage is done to candidates in the current election.

    Rick, please explain why a high-powered and well-connected lawyer is essentially donating his time. Gee, and right in the middle of an election. Duh. And I’ll bet he’s not reporting that as a campaign contribution, now is he?

  15. East valley voter says

    The reason that Gleason is charging a lower rate is that is attempting to get a job at the State Bar as the new permanent probable cause Judge. This is a new position and Gleason is rumored to be the leading canidate.

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