Gov Hobbs’ Administration Faces Scrutiny Over Alleged ‘Pay-To-Play’ Scheme

Governor Katie Hobbs (D) and her administration are under fire as the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has agreed to investigate allegations of a “pay-to-play” scheme involving state funds being used to reward major campaign donors. The decision to launch the probe comes just a day after reports of a border security/immigration referendum on November’s ballot, which could spell trouble for the Arizona Democrat Party and its leader.

The investigation was prompted by a letter sent by State Sen. T.J. Shope, R- District 16, to Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes, expressing concerns about the potential misuse of state funds. Shope’s letter specifically mentioned the Department of Child Safety’s alleged decision to approve a nearly 60% rate increase for Sunshine Residential Homes, a company that had made significant contributions to Hobbs’ inauguration fund and the Arizona Democratic Party.

According to a report by the Arizona Republic, Sunshine Residential Homes received a substantial rate hike from DCS after making six-figure donations to Hobbs’ inaugural fund and the state Democratic Party. The company’s initial application for a rate increase in December 2022 was denied by DCS in February 2023, but a second application in May 2023 was approved.

The report also revealed that Sunshine CEO Simon Kottoor was on Hobbs’ inaugural committee and had contributed to her campaign, with his company even presenting her with an award about a month before her election.

Shope’s letter, which was copied to the GOP Maricopa County attorney and the Department of Child Services director, raised questions about possible violations of laws regarding bribery, fraud, procurement, conflicts of interest and illegal expenditures of state money. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee chair is seeking records that might shed light on the alleged scheme.

As the Arizona Attorney General’s Office begins its investigation into the allegations against Gov. Hobbs and her administration, the outcome could have far-reaching consequences for the governor’s political future and the trust of Arizonans in their state government. The probe, coupled with the upcoming border security/immigration referendum, suggests that the Arizona Democrat Party and its leader may be facing an uphill battle in the months to come.