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JLBC requests redistricting budget documents

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee is seeking budget documents from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for an audit requested by House Speaker Andy Tobin.

The Jan. 6 request came one day after Tobin asked for the audit over concerns that the IRC, which has racked up more than $1 million in legal fees, wouldn’t have enough money for the current fiscal year.

“We understand that the IRC is currently evaluating whether its $3 million appropriation for FY2012 will be sufficient for this year,” JLBC Director Richard Stavneak said in the letter, which was addressed to IRC Chairwoman Colleen Mathis.

Stavneak requested the following from the IRC:
· A listing of all revenue generated and collected by the IRC.
· An accounting of all expenditures by year, including legal services for individual members and an itemized list showing which lawsuits each expenditure was for.
· A listing of expenditures for staffing, committee operations and outside consultants.
· An expenditure plan for FY12, with and without the supplemental funds the IRC is requesting.
· An expenditure plan for FY13.

Stavneak asked for the documents by Jan. 30.

Tobin’s request came after the IRC asked the Governor’s Office to move its $660,000 allotment for the third quarter of fiscal year 2012 into the second quarter, a request that Gov. Jan Brewer denied, according to the letter. Tobin said the commission also requested a $1.7 million appropriation for fiscal year 2013 and may request additional money to cover legal fees for the current fiscal year.

“I am very concerned about the instability of the IRC’s financial outlook,” Tobin wrote in his Jan. 5 letter. “I would like the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to produce a report detailing the IRC’s accounting of public dollars.”

According to IRC records, the commission has racked up about $1.1 million in legal fees, but nearly $336,000 of that money has not yet been paid. The commission initially hired Joe Kanefield of the firm Ballard Spahr and Mary O’Grady of the firm Osborn Maledon as its counsel – a move that riled Republicans when the IRC refused to hire an attorney favored by its two Republican members.

Since then, it has also contracted with attorneys from several other firms to represent individual commissioners and the IRC as a whole to deal with an investigation into alleged open meeting law violations by the commission and a legal battle over the ouster of Chairwoman Colleen Mathis by Brewer and the Senate.

The IRC had a budget of about $3 million for FY12, along with about $400,000 left over from the prior fiscal year, according to Tobin’s letter.

But the IRC has been besieged by legal costs due to the legal challenges. The commission hired outside counsel to defend Mathis and Democratic Commissioners José Herrera and Linda McNulty for an investigation launched by Attorney General Tom Horne over alleged violations of Arizona’s open meeting law. Additional legal services were needed after Mathis challenged Brewer and the Senate’s removal of her as IRC chair, an ouster that was later reversed by the Arizona Supreme Court.

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