CORRECTION: The original version of this story asserted that Workman’s complaint acknowledged a council decision to hire a private investigation company. This is false. The complaint says the Quartzsite Council only authorized contacting outside government agencies only, not private investigators. The story below has been altered from its original version to reflect the correction.
Newly-elected Quartzsite councilwoman Pat Workman has filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office against Quartzsite’s Town Manager Alex Taft.
Workman alleges Taft has issued checks for over $30,000 to a private investigation firm to investigate claims of voter fraud in the May election, by which voters elected Workman, Ed Foster and Mark Orgeron. Foster and Orgeron are currently fighting for their seats in various legal proceedings after the council voted they were not qualified to take office.
The complaint says:
“I believe Town Manager has exceeded her authority in the disbursement of funds from the town treasury. She has entered into an agreement for investigation of the recent election that was not authorized by the Town Council. Since this has resulted in fees of over $30,000 (thirty thousand dollars) this far exceeds the $5,000 dollar limit on her independent authority.”
After May’s election, Taft stated that the Town “has serious concerns about the eligibility of some of the voters”, adding, “We have identified 168 voters that we need to look at more thoroughly, for a variety of reasons.” Among the reasons, she cited out of state license plates, out of state registration and out of state mailing addresses.
Taft then hired Ron Hergert Consulting, a “Licensed private investigations” firm with an office on Bell Road in Phoenix, which gathered records from the La Paz County Recorder’s Office and wrote letters (like this one) to voters asking them to provide further details about their residency in Quartzsite.
La Paz County Recorder Shelly Baker, speaking on KLPZ 1380am radio last month, said she had helped the hired investigators find the public records they were looking for, but that no voting irregularities had been identified in the process. Baker said Quartzsite Vice-Mayor Barbara Cowell’s assertion in an Arizona Republic story that the Town had “proof that there were three people who were dead who voted” in May’s election was an “urban legend.” Cowell was voted out in that election having lost her seat to Orgeron, but remains in her seat at this time, believing the vote to be invalid.
Workman’s complaint alleges that the Town never authorized the checks to pay it, with $5,000 being the most Taft can authorize by herself.
The complaint adds that Taft refused “to deliver a copy of public records in a timely manner, and specifically the contract allegedly authorizing this expense,” saying that it “constitutes a class 6 felony.”
Parker Live delayed this story to give Alex Taft a chance to comment, but Taft did not return our calls.