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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Under Investigation For Alleged 'Pay-to-Play' Scheme

State Senator says the allegations 'raise serious public corruption questions that could implicate several state laws'

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Under Investigation For Alleged 'Pay-to-Play' Scheme

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs will face a criminal probe by the state’s Attorney General Kris Mayes over political donations made by a state contractor who has ties to the governor.

Sunshine Residential Homes, which operates around 30 group homes for children removed from their parents and placed into state custody, is at the center of the controversy after being the only provider to win a special rate increase during the Hobbs administration, AZ Central reported.

The home provider said it was facing a budget shortfall and needed to reduce its capacity to house children. However, DCS said it could not afford to lose the bed space provided by Sunshine.

When the Department of Child Safety (DCS) renewed contracts with home providers this year, Sunshine received the highest daily pay.

However, Sunshine also recently launched a political spending campaign, donating $400,000 in 2022 and 2023, as detailed by AZ Central.

Of those funds, $300,000 went to the Arizona Democratic Party in three transactions before and after Hobbs won the 2022 gubernatorial election. Sunshine also donated $100,000 to Hobbs’ inauguration fund.

State Sen. T.J. Shope is now requesting the attorney general to open an investigation over allegations the pay increase is part of a quid-pro-quo scheme.

“As a state senator and chairman for the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, I am deeply disturbed by recent reports in the media outlining what can only be described as a pay-to-play scheme between Governor Katie Hobbs’ Office, the Arizona Department of Child Safety, and political donors,” Shope said in a letter to Mayes.

“These reports, if verified, raise serious public corruption questions that could implicate several state laws,” he explained, including, but not limited to, bribery, conflict of interest, and illegal expenditure of state monies.

“Elected officials are bound by an oath to uphold the laws of our state and to be prudent stewards of taxpayer money,” he added. “I respectfully request your office examine the facts surrounding the Department of Child Safety’s alleged decision to approve a nearly 60 percent rate increase for Sunshine Residential Homes and determine if conduct by any of the involved parties warrants a criminal or civil investigation.”

Christian Slater, a spokesman for Hobbs, says it is “outrageous” to suggest she would not approve needed funding increases for children in foster care.

"Just like past investigations instigated by radical and partisan legislators, the administration will be cleared of wrongdoing," Slater said in a text message to AZ Central.

Mayes responded with a letter to Shope, advising that his office would be opening an investigation.

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