The Attorney General’s Office today confirmed that it is investigating whether House Speaker David Gowan misused state vehicles and improperly billed the state for miles he shouldn’t have been reimbursed for.
“We can confirm the Attorney General’s Office is investigating allegations of misuse of public resources involving Speaker Gowan,” AG spokeswoman Mia Garcia told Arizona Capitol Times.
“As always, our office will conduct a thorough investigation. We can’t comment further on the details of our ongoing investigation,” she said.
The investigation follows reporting by the Capitol Times about the House’s increased use of state-owned vehicles under Gowan’s leadership.
In March, Gowan asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate his travels, saying that nothing short of being cleared of wrongdoing by the attorney general would demonstrate to his political opponents that he did nothing wrong.
Garcia did not respond to questions about whether the AG’s investigation began before Gowan made that request.
Records show that House lawmakers and staff drove more than 31,600 miles in 2015. They included House members who used the cars to drive to a conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council in San Diego.
By comparison, the Senate didn’t incur any charges for fleet vehicles in 2015
House Sergeant-at-arms Billy Cloud drove the most, registering more than 16,000 miles over the year.
The records also show that the chamber spent just short of $10,000 on DOA rentals and gas for the year.
Following the story’s publication, Gowan launched an internal investigation into his travel. It found that he had improperly claimed mileage reimbursements for trips taken in state vehicles and that he had received per diem payments for days he did not work. As a result, he repaid the state more than $12,000.
House Minority Leaders Eric Meyer and Rebecca Rios subsequently asked the House’s ethics panel to conduct its own inquiry not only of Gowan, but also of the other legislators who had used state-owned vehicles.
Rep. David Stevens, the chair of the ethics panel, turned down that request and alluded to an ongoing investigation by the attorney general.