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DOA overseeing treasury operations

Department of Administration Director Bill Bell (File photo)

Acting on statutory authority, the Department of Administration on Friday began oversight of day-to-day operations at the Treasurer’s Office, DOA Director Bill Bell told Arizona Capitol Times yesterday.
He said his decision to assign his comptroller to the treasury on a daily basis came after a meeting Thursday with Treasurer David Petersen. Mr. Bell and DOA officials met with treasury staff Friday and he has called an emergency meeting of the Board of Investment for 1:30 this afternoon.
“My interest is to hold that office together until issues are resolved,” Mr. Bell said. “We are not assuming the treasurer’s role. We have no axe to grind.”
He said DOA has visited the treasury over the past three months because of the “turmoil” within the agency.
The oversight includes the Auditor General’s Office as well, Mr. Bell said.
Mr. Petersen pleaded guilty last week to a class 1 misdemeanor for failing to disclose a $4,200 commission he received last year from the Character First Institute and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1. As part of a plea agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, he has to resign by the time he is sentenced.
Arizona Capitol Times last Thursday reported Chief Deputy Treasurer Blaine Vance became the second employee to file a whistleblower claim against Mr. Petersen, asking for more than $2 million in damages. His claim, along with a $3.5 million claim from former chief of staff Tony Malaj are in DOA’s hands for settlement or denial.
Because of his role with DOA, Mr. Bell has recused himself from being involved with the claims, he said.
Arizona Capitol Times also reported Mr. Petersen in February asked at least two staff members if visits to pornographic Web sites on his computer could be detected by the AG’s office, which had seized his and other computers two weeks earlier.
“That always bothers me,” Mr. Bell said of the pornography matter.
He said DOA’s oversight of the Treasurer’s Office will continue until Mr. Petersen resigns and Governor Napolitano appoints an interim treasurer.
Mr. Bell said he notified the Governor’s Office of the action.

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