A special agent in Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard’s office is gathering financial records on state Treasurer Dean Martin — the chief witness in a separate criminal probe of Goddard’s agency, according to e-mails obtained by the Tribune.
Robert Brunansky of the attorney general’s office last month obtained Martin’s personal financial disclosure statements from the Arizona Secretary of State, according to Brunansky’s public records request sent from his attorney general’s account.
Brunansky also asked for tutoring in how to review Martin’s campaign finance statements, which are available online, according to Kevin Tyne, assistant secretary of state.
Andrea Esquer, spokeswoman for Goddard’s office, would neither confirm nor deny Martin is being investigated.
Meanwhile, Goddard’s office is being investigated by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas to determine if the attorney general illegally cut a deal last year with former state treasurer David Petersen, who resigned after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in October 2006.
Petersen reached a plea agreement with Goddard about the same time the treasurer’s office authorized payment of $1.9 million in legal fees claimed by Goddard in a separate civil case. When Martin took over as treasurer in January, he concluded the payment was improper, and asked Arpaio and Thomas to determine whether any laws were broken.
The county investigation, which was announced in April, is to determine whether Petersen authorized excess payments in return for a light plea deal in his own criminal case.
Martin has since halted payments for some of the legal fees, and is holding the disputed funds in an escrow account. Martin said he wants an independent legal review to determine how much Goddard’s office should be paid. Goddard’s office has thus far refused to allow Martin to hire an outside counsel to make that determination.
The attorney general normally provides legal advice to state agencies.
On Thursday, Martin described the search of his financial documents by Goddard’s investigator as “political retaliation.”
Martin, Arpaio, Thomas and Petersen are all Republicans. Goddard is a Democrat.
“His attempts to intimidate me are not going to work,” Martin said of Goddard. “It’s sad that he’s resorting to these types of tactics.”
Martin said he did not know about the attorney general’s inquiry until contacted by the Tribune.
“I have nothing to hide,” Martin said. “He can look all he wants.”
Goddard insists the $1.9 million payment was required by law as compensation in a civil case against an investment company that had been used by the state. The treasurer manages state General Fund investments, and would have to sign off on payments for Goddard’s legal fees.
Martin maintains Goddard is trying to collect about twice as much as he is entitled to in the case, and froze payments after he took office.
Barnett Lotstein, special assistant county attorney, said it is “extremely troubling” that Martin is now under investigation by the attorney general’s office.
Even if there is a reason to investigate Martin, the attorney general has a conflict of interest since Martin is the key witness in the county’s case, Lotstein said.
“Mr. Martin is the one who initiated the (county’s) investigation,” Lotstein said. “By investigating Mr. Martin at this time, it could have the effect of intimidating Mr. Martin. Even if there were a basis for it, it strikes us that it should not be Mr. Goddard’s office that is conducting that inquiry.”