Cardon’s siblings claim he squandered the family’s money on lavish lifestyle, politics

Jeremy Duda//July 21, 2014

Cardon’s siblings claim he squandered the family’s money on lavish lifestyle, politics

Jeremy Duda//July 21, 2014

Mesa businessman Wil Cardon (Photo from campaign website)
Mesa businessman Wil Cardon (Photo from campaign website)

Six of secretary of state candidate Wil Cardon’s seven siblings sued him over his control of family trust funds and his use of their money, including more than $6 million he spent on his failed U.S. Senate campaign in 2012.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, Cardon’s family alleges that he improperly transferred about $6.5 million from the family’s trusts to himself for his 2012 campaign and improperly transferred another $3.2 to himself this year to purchase a luxury home. They also allege he spent $1.1 million in family assets on a home in 2010, and used another $800,000 in 2013 and 2014 to “finance his lifestyle,” including credit card bills and other personal expenses.

“W.R. Cardon has misused Cardon family assets to afford himself an excessive and lavish lifestyle,” the lawsuit alleges.

The bulk of the lawsuit challenges a November 2013 renegotiation of the Cardon family’s assets, which the siblings say is null and void because it violates previous agreements and was not signed by most of the family. Patrick Cardon, the defendant’s brother and the only sibling to sign the 2013 agreement, claimed in the lawsuit that he filed it under duress and based on false pretenses.

Cardon’s siblings also dispute a claim that Wil Cardon has a 50 percent stake of the family’s business. They allege that violated the trust agreements by spending trust money that also belongs to the siblings and their children.

The siblings allege that his transfers for his Senate campaign and the house violate the agreements governing the family trusts. They are seeking $9.7 million in damages.

In addition, Cardon’s siblings are asking Judge Sally Duncan to affirm the family’s removal of Cardon’s control of family trusts, remove him as the head of another, nullify the November 2013 agreement and bar him from any decision-making power over family assets, among other provisions.

“Those attempting to reach an agreement and to redistribute the subject assets do not have the power to control such assets, were not acting in representative capacities or as trustees, and are expressly prohibited from using such assets for their own benefit or from transferring those assets to themselves or in violation of their fiduciary duties and the law of trusts,” the lawsuit read.

Chris Baker, Cardon’s campaign consultant, said the lawsuit isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and described it as a money grab by the Mesa businessman’s siblings. Baker said the lawsuit is intended to force Cardon into an unfavorable negotiating position.

“The lawsuit was done to try to hurt Wil politically and try to force him to the table so that his siblings and his father can get more money that they’re not entitled to. Simple as that. That’s all it is,” Baker said. “This is nothing but rank greed.”

Attorney Jay Zweig, who represents Cardon’s siblings in the lawsuit, did not return a message from the Arizona Capitol Times.

The lawsuit comes at a politically sensitive time for Cardon. He is in a three-way race for the Republican nomination in the secretary of state’s race with state Rep. Justin Pierce and state Sen. Michele Reagan.

When Cardon entered the secretary of state’s race, many political observers expected him to heavily self-fund, as he did in 2012. But as of the end of the last reporting period, on May 31, Cardon had only put $133,500 of his own money into the race, compared to the millions he spent seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat two years ago.

Baker said the lawsuit and the family disputes that preceded it have “not really” altered Cardon’s campaign plans, including his willingness to self-fund. He noted that Cardon has been running ads on cable television for the past two weeks.

“We’re continuing with our plans as we’ve always intended to,” Baker said.