County board votes to suspend Petersen

Dillon Rosenblatt//October 28, 2019

County board votes to suspend Petersen

Dillon Rosenblatt//October 28, 2019


The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to suspend County Assessor Paul Petersen without pay on the grounds he’s in federal custody in Arkansas and can’t serve. 

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said they sent Petersen a letter before the vote asking him to provide any sort of proof that he could still do his job. They also asked why and how more than 1,000 documents relating to his adoption business came to be on his county computer. That information was provided to the Board through an internal audit that should be made available to the public later today.

Gates said Petersen did not respond to their letter.

Arizona authorities arrested Petersen in early October in connection with indictments in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas on allegations he ran an illegal adoption scheme.

The process to appoint an interim County Assessor has begun, but Gates did not say how long it would take before they name Petersen’s temporary replacement, just that it would not be done today.

Petersen’s lawyer, Kurt Altman, previously told 12 News that Petersen has no plans to resign even though Gov. Doug Ducey, the entire Board of Supervisors and others have called on him to do so. Altman did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

Gates said Petersen or his lawyer can now opt to appeal the decision.

“We will address that if it happens,” Gates said.

The Board chairman did not say whether the county plans to change the locks or remove Petersen’s access to the garage in order to keep him off the premises.

According to the state statute used to suspend the county assessor or treasurer, the Board of Supervisors may ask the County Attorney to seek the person’s removal from office after suspension by way of a grand jury.

Fields Moseley, a county spokesman, told Arizona Capitol Times that the Board and newly-appointed County Attorney Allister Adel, who was in attendance at today’s vote, have discussed all legal options, including the possibility of removing Petersen via a grand jury, but that she has not yet been asked to do so.

A spokeswoman for Adel could not comment on if Adel was asked either.