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Aide files $3.5 million claim against Petersen

State Treasurer David Petersen (File photo)

State Treasurer David Petersen’s former chief of staff has filed a $3.5 million whistleblower claim alleging he suffered reprisals after cooperating in an Attorney General’s investigation of the office.
Tony Malaj still works for the Treasurer’s Office, but has been stripped of his responsibilities, which also included serving as Mr. Petersen’s spokesman.
Mr. Malaj’s attorney is Jeffrey Arbetman, who was instrumental in writing ARS 38-532, the state’s whistleblower law that prohibits reprisals against an employee “for a disclosure of information of a matter of public concern . . .” He said the claim against Mr. Petersen involves violations of that law.
Mr. Arbetman would not discuss details of the claim with our reporter, other than to say such a claim has to be filed within six months of the reprisals, and if the state does not respond within 60 days, he may file a lawsuit. The state may not be sued for punitive damages, he added.
The AG’s office would not acknowledge receipt of the claim. Mr. Petersen was served personally, Mr. Arbetman said. The attorney, who also represents Chief Deputy Treasurer Blaine Vance, would not disclose whether he will file a similar claim against Mr. Petersen on Mr. Vance’s behalf.
The new chief of staff is Rhoda Bryce, Mr. Petersen’s campaign manager before he decided against seeking reelection. She left the Treasurer’s Office for several months once the investigation began, but returned and was placed in charge of the office by a part-time employee hired by Mr. Petersen to prepare the office for the transition to a new treasurer.

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