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Indictments leave Wilcox weighing an end to political career

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said on the witness stand today that her ordeal with former County Attorney Andrew Thomas has made her question whether to run for re-election in 2012.

Wilcox said she doesn’t want to expose her family to any distress that would come if her political opponent in the next election were to bring up two indictments Thomas brought against her in 2009 and 2010.

“I don’t know I will run for political office again,” she said in testimony.

According to county election records, Wilcox is the only one of five County Supervisors who hasn’t organized a new campaign committee.

Karen Osborne, director of Maricopa County Elections Department, said county supervisors have typically filed paperwork to open their committees immediately after the previous election cycle. The statements must be filed for a candidate to do any campaigning, Osborn said.

Wilcox, who spent about three hours testifying, declined to elaborate afterwards about her statement that she might end her political career.

“I just tried to express how I really felt,” said Wilcox, whose political career goes back 28 years when she was first elected to the Phoenix City Council. As a county supervisor, she was wounded in an assassination attempt in 1997 over her deciding vote to enact a sales tax to build Chase Field.

Wilcox said she couldn’t comment further because she might be called back to the witness stand and is under a gag order from Presiding Disciplinary Judge William O’Neal.

The Thomas hearing finished its second week of testimony today. The State Bar of Arizona has filed a 33-count complaint alleging Thomas and former deputies Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander committed ethical violations stemming from a series of disputes with the Board of Supervisors, Superior Court, county management and private attorneys over a four-year span.

State Bar attorney John Gleason has alleged that they retaliated against Thomas’ political enemies by filing criminal charges, lawsuits or both.

Thomas brought an indictment against Wilcox in December 2009, alleging she failed to disclose a conflict of interest on a county loan vote.

Thomas had to scrap that case because of factual errors in the indictment, but he filed a new indictment in January 2010.

Pima County Judge John Leonardo disqualified Thomas from the case for conflict of interest and wrote in his ruling that the former county attorney abused his authority in prosecuting Wilcox.

Thomas sent the case to Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores, but the Leonardo ruling spurred the State Bar to begin an investigation of Thomas.

Flores declined to prosecute Wilcox, saying in a long written explanation that the case had merits, but she didn’t believe she could convict Wilcox.

Wilcox’s statement about possibly not running came during a line of questioning about the impact Thomas’ targeting of her had on her life.

Wilcox said she felt shunned by political allies and felt the stares and whispers everywhere she went.

“I was looked at as the woman who had been indicted, guilty or not it didn’t matter,” she said.

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