(Note: This story comes from the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting through a Creative Commons license. AZCIR is a nonprofit investigative newsroom.)
According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month, the chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party directed campaign expenditures toward her friend and husband, and when the party’s top staffer objected to the payments, she was fired.
Former Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Sheila Healy claims in her lawsuit that a rift between her and Democratic Party Chairwoman Alexis Tameron grew out of Healy’s attempts to stop “what appeared to be self-dealing by Ms. Tameron.”
Healy said she objected to awarding a “large direct-mail contract to a close friend of Ms. Tameron,” and “expressed concerns about the cost of a sizable digital contract awarded to Ms. Tameron’s husband.”
Tameron’s husband, Adam Kinsey, is a partner at Saguaro Strategies. Campaign finance records show the Arizona Democratic Party paid $124,000 to Saguaro Strategies from its federal campaign account.
While Healy raises the issue of “self-dealing” in her lawsuit, the bulk of the complaint deals with how Healy’s bonus was to be structured and whether she is owed more money since being fired by the Arizona Democratic Party.
Healy claims that she is owed $116,000, but she alleged in the lawsuit that the party offered to pay her only a $4,000 bonus.
Tameron said she will work with the party’s attorneys to craft a response to Healy’s complaint, and that it may deal mostly with the contract dispute, since Healy is seeking a monetary remedy for it. But Tameron insisted there was no “self-dealing” and said nothing unethical took place.
“The allegations are false. There is no self-dealing. She’s making these claims only since she was let go from the party,” Tameron said. “I believe she’s trying to draw a narrative that doesn’t exist.”
Tameron said expenditures made to her husband’s company were approved by the party’s treasurer, finance director and compliance director, before she was able to give final approval for the expenditures.
Healy did not respond to multiple requests for comment.