County Supervisors caught spending astronomical funds on separate outside legal counsel Tom Irvine

The Arizona Republic’s Craig Harris, a much more objective reporter than Yvonne Wingett who has developed a way-too-cozy relationship with the Supervisors, has written an article covering how much money the Board of Supervisors has thrown at their separate, outside legal counsel Tom Irvine (pictured above). The word downtown is that the Supervisors use Irvine, a Democrat and former attorney for the Democrat Party, instead of the civil attorneys in the County Attorney’s Office who are by law the Board’s attorneys, because he tells them exactly what they want to hear.  If they want to build a $340 million Taj Mahal court tower in the midst of a recession in order to buy off the judges, forcing other county agencies to cut 15% of their budgets to pay for it, he will give them the legal approval to hide behind.

Of course, he doesn’t come cheap. The Republic reports he charges up to $340/hr.  His law clerks and legal assistants charge the county $175/hr. Unbelievable. The Board has paid Irvine’s law firm nearly $1.2 million in legal fees over the last year, the second highest-paid firm by the county! The only firm that received a higher payout last year was a firm that handles indigent defense.  Even the court tower’s project manager Abe Thomas thinks his fees are a bit excessive.  Assistant County Manager Kenny Harris admits that they didn’t need to hire the highest-paid attorneys to take minutes at meetings for projects of this sort.  We doubt they even need an attorney to manage a court tower project, which should be handled by technical people, not lawyers.  We suspect they’re paying Irvine our tax dollars so he will continue to help them defend their indefensible court tower against the wiser advice of the County Attorney’s counsel who they fired because they didn’t like their legal advice in regards to following the law.


  1. It’s unfortunate that the Supes are wasting this money. It’s also unfortunate that a judge last week approved such an arrangement because Andy Thomas has not appropriately represented his clients. The language of the decision is pretty damning: “The Board of Supervisors must bear in mind that when the County Attorney folows the ethical rules in his relationship as attorney for Maricopa County and the Board of Supervisors, his office will then be the appropriate attorney of record for Maricopa County…”

    “When”? the CA follows the ethical rules? In other words, there is an ethical breach involved. That’s bad.

    The Supes are no prize either. The county is just a mess.

  2. Coming soon, Chewies blog post about how much the County Attorney and MCSO has spent on outside council and lost lawsuits…wait, that’s not to come? Why not?

  3. The Maricopa County stupidvisors have reached the level of Chicago-style politics. Every day it seems there is another scandal and another law enforcement agency is being demonized by them for investigating them. I opened up the paper today and there is – surprise surprise – another article on their corruption. The law enforcement unions are getting the legislature to investigate their misappropriation of funds. The Stupidvisors want to spend money on everything for themselves and nothing for law enforcement.

  4. By the way, it absolutely STUPID that any outside council has to be used. That’s why we have taxpayer funded attorney’s. Unfortunately, our politicians can’t quit running for their next office and just do their damn jobs.

  5. Seriously Fred, you’re not taking that with even the slightest grain of salt? Sean Pearce, son of Russell Pearce, best friends and former Chief Deputy to Joe Arpaio.
    No, you’re right, this has NOTHING to do with politics. They really are just on a “fact finding” mission.

  6. Peakerman,

    The Stupidvisors have bought off the judges by insisting on building their $340 million Taj Mundell court tower despite being in a recession with drastic cuts being made everywhere countywide. The judges aren’t going to rule against them, of course they’re going to rule against Thomas in ANYTHING he challenges them on, including getting him out of the way as legal counsel so the Stupidvisors can continue their massive spending without any checks. They’re no friends to taxpayers, and what do the judges care, they’re all liberals making huge salaries!

  7. Now the legislature is investigating the Stupidvisors for misappropriation of funds.

  8. Alicia Gegner says

    Somebody help me out please. When I was growing up, telling lies was bad, breaking promises was crummy, giving privileges to people who did not deserve them was slimy… I guess what I am trying to say is that we were expected to be honest and ethical.

    So what I want to know, is how bad became good, and good became bad. This Board of Supervisors was elected to represent the needs of the public, which includes safeguarding our money and keeping us safe. So far, the only money they seem to safeguard is theirs and that of their cronies. As far as keeping us safe is concerned, they seem to have little interest in that. If they cared, they would not hold back funds from law enforcement and the county attorney.

    This horrid board made 1.4 billion dollars disappear. Where is it? Do you know? I don’t!! They are as intent on spending our money on this overpriced court tower that nobody needs, and they have lots of winky winks and nods from judges who are going to get plush offices in the new Taj Mahal. Are the board members benefitting from slush funds that are hidden? Will they find themselves unaccountably enrichened when they leave office? I don’t know. I do know that an awful lot of people seem to become very wealthy in public service on surprisingly modest salaries. How does that happen? They are geniuses when it comes to putting money in their own pockets, and complete idiots when it comes to preserving our money. I want to know how they manage to do that.

    Our county was selected as the worst run in the United States. We used to be the best. The Board of Supervisors is under criminal investigation by a number of agencies. They still have not made public all kinds of secret documents on the Court Tower that we ought to be able to see. So who are they working for, us or themselves?

    We have to take back our country starting at the local level, and moving all the way to the federal government. They are out of control and need very short leashes.

  9. Speaking of Alicia, check out this little ditty. It’s about a top ranking MCSO deputy who was telling lies, breaking promises, receiving privileges, etc.

    The whole lot needs to be done away with. They’ve all been around a little too long.

    “Somebody help me out please. When I was growing up, telling lies was bad, breaking promises was crummy, giving privileges to people who did not deserve them was slimy… I guess what I am trying to say is that we were expected to be honest and ethical.”

  10. Roger:

    Let’s face it, the Sheriff and County Attorney earned the ire of the B.O.S. when they decided to enforce immigration law!

    Same goes for the BananaRepublican hostility towards the County GOP leadership.

    Ever since prop. 200 was passed against the wishes of the CofC and its minions in the GOP Congressional delegation, we’ve seen a strange alliance between liberal Dems, McCaniacs and the Burger Barons against anyone who would apply the rule of law to immigration and employment.

    And what really infuriates them is the fact that Arpaio, Thomas, Pearce and Haney are fighting back and resonating with the tax paying public in doing so!

  11. I think all but one of these supervisors is a Republican.

  12. PHX Attorney says

    Only $340 an hour. That is pretty cheap by Valley standards for a senior attorney; the County is getting a pretty good deal for outside counsel. Middle to senior associates at big firms in Phoenix charge more than that an hour.

  13. Carlist do you really think this all has something to do with immigration? Somehow those three loons are the ONLY ones who aren’t “open borders” “cheap labor” “profits before patriotism” elected officials?

    Not everything boils down to immigration. In fact, the reason you think it does is because those three make you believe that’s really what they care about (Pearce I’ll give you only because that’s the ONLY thing he cares about). This is about them and them only. 100% control.

  14. The board of supervisors have no shame. The County Treasurer needs to get permission to buy staplers but Mundell can spend money like a drunken sailor. I suppose the favorable rulings from this corrupt bench have nothing to do with being given a blank check. Mundell does what she wants as if Brock and Stapley work for her. The supervisors were looking to put their names on a big building not adding courtrooms in cheapest manner.

  15. Can we agree that ALL of them — supervisors and line officers — act like irresponsible children and should be thrown out of office? Why is county government the only level with no term limits? Get rid of them all and start over.

  16. Roger:

    The division within the GOP definitely goes back to Prop. 200 and its passage in the face of opposition from our congressional delegation.

    McCain countered by attempting to purge both Pullen and Haney and failed!

    Arpaio, with the backing of Thomas, began to enforce immigration law in Phoenix and Mesa when it became all too apparent that their respective police agencies were being prevented from doing so by city authorities.

    All this nonsense about who’s doing what and to whom is smokescreen b.s. and posturing which covers up the real bone of contention.

    As I’ve posted before, the alliances have been drawn and next year’s election cycle will determine who emerges victorious.

    It’s rather obvious that the GOP is headed toward a rather nasty internal set-to as in “86-88” and I for one will be pulling for the “loons” rather than the “pocket liners”.

    Whatever their shortcomings, the first group possesses intellectual honesty, while the latter consist of a pack of social climbing, self-centered con artists!

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