Nelson Lies About No-Bid Contract for Wife’s Law Firm during Horizon Debate

PHOENIX, AZ – October 23, 2008 – Tim Nelson is once again having a hard time explaining questionable conduct on his part. The latest untruth from Mr. Nelson came in response to Andrew Thomas pointing out that the Governor’s Office sent $326,000 in taxpayer funded, no-bid legal work to the prominent Democrat law firm that is owned in part by Nelson’s wife when Nelson was chief legal counsel to the Governor.

During the Horizon debate on October 21st, Nelson claimed that it was the Attorney General who hired his wife’s law firm, not the Governor’s Office. This is false. Articles from two separate newspapers, the East Valley Tribune and The Arizona Daily Star, both of which are cited below, indicate that it was the Governor’s Office that hired Coppersmith Gordon Schermer and Brockelman for legal work – not the Attorney General.

In addition, documents provided by the Arizona Department of Administration, pursuant to a public records request, indicate that the $326,000 in legal services were procured by the Napolitano Administration, not the Attorney General. These documents are also attached.

“Mr. Nelson’s false statement during the debate that the sweetheart contract that was awarded by the Attorney General’s office rather than the Governor was obviously intended to hide the fact that Nelson personally benefitted financially from these contracts as the spouse of an owner of this law firm,” said Andrew Thomas. “It is disturbing Nelson is once again unable to provide a truthful answer on an important matter.”

The arrangement also violates the spirit of then-Attorney General Janet Napolitano’s opinion about the propriety of such referrals.

The articles:

From: “Legislators launch inquiry on veterans home neglect”
by Paul Giblin and Dennis Welch, East Valley Tribune (3-28-07)

… In another development, the governor tapped the Phoenix law firm, Coppersmith Gordon Schermer & Brockelman, to conduct a second independent investigation into the veterans home. In what seems to be a conflict of interest, the same firm also has been retained to respond to the first investigation on behalf of the veterans home.

The firm is supposed to work with Leonard Kirschner, who was asked by the governor to look into the reports on the home by federal and state health officials.

The governor’s spokeswoman, Jeanine L’Ecuyer, said Tuesday the firm was hired Friday through a verbal agreement so the state could address the matter quickly, and because officials believe it has a strong record in dealing with health care issues.

She had no further details on the specifics of the agreement.

Members of the law firm have close personal ties to the governor’s office.

Among them are former U.S. congressman and Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Sam Coppersmith, who writes opinion page columns for the Tribune; Andy Gordon, who was Napolitano’s political campaign attorney; Karen Owens, wife of a Napolitano appointee and former president of Planned Parenthood of northern and central Arizona, and Julie Nelson, wife of Napolitano’s chief legal adviser…

From: “Law firm represents both sides in state veterans-home review”
By Daniel Scarpinato, Arizona Daily Star (3-28-07)

PHOENIX – A law firm appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano to review conditions at the state veterans home following allegations of patient neglect and nepotism has also been hired by the home to contest some of those same allegations.

But both the governor’s spokeswoman and the firm – which is staffed by the spouses of two Napolitano appointees and other political allies – say the dual role is not a conflict…

…Coppersmith Gordon Schermer & Brockelman – a powerful Phoenix firm with ties to the Democratic Party – was tapped to do a review by Napolitano on Friday after she learned the Arizona State Veterans Home was facing $10,000 in fines…

…In addition to Gordon’s involvement in Napolitano’s campaign, Coppersmith Gordon Schermer & Brockelman has other Democratic ties.

Partner Sam Coppersmith is a former Democratic congressman and liberal blogger, and Schermer is his wife.

Karen Owens, the attorney for the care home and former president of Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona, is married to Steve Owens, director of the Arizona Department of Environment Quality and a Napolitano appointee.

Tim Nelson, the governor’s chief legal adviser, is married to another staffer in the firm, Julie Nelson…

From Jason Rose & Jim Sharpe and the campaign

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