Indicted Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley was not appointed to a special task force on the implementation of the federal economic recovery plan, despite a claim to that effect made by his lawyers in a court motion, a White House spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Stapley's attorney, Paul Charlton, said there was a mix-up in terminology and acknowledged the supervisor has not been appointed to a task force by Vice President Joe Biden, as was claimed in a motion filed Tuesday.
However, Stapley was asked to participate in a meeting next week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the implementation of the economic recovery plan signed last month by President Barack Obama, Charlton said.
"He was invited to participate in something called something other than a task force," Charlton said Wednesday afternoon, after the White House denied Stapley had been appointed to any committee by the administration. "That was Don's understanding of what the group was going to be called, but we're clearly going to agree with whatever the White House is saying it is. Don has decided to withdraw from participation in that group, whatever it's called, because it's become too much of a distraction."
Stapley's appointment to the group was raised in a motion filed in court Tuesday by his lawyers asking that he be allowed to travel to Washington to participate in the meetings between March 17-19. Stapley must get the court's permission to travel out of state as a condition of his release related to his indictment on 118 criminal charges. The indictment, which alleges he failed to list business and real estate interests on financial disclosure statements, was issued in November and announced in December.
In the motion seeking permission to travel, Charlton stated Stapley had been appointed by Biden to the task force. The Tribune reported on the motion Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Moira Mack of the White House Press Office said Stapley has not been appointed to any position by the president or vice president, or anyone else in the administration.
Mack said she did not know whether Stapley had been invited to any functions related to implementation of the economic stimulus plan.
Stapley is president of the National Association of Counties.
The motion to allow Stapley to travel was withdrawn Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who brought the case against Stapley, sent a letter to the U.S. Secret Service warning that Stapley was under indictment and advising the agency to take "any security or administrative measures you deem appropriate."
Charlton blasted the letter as "outrageous" for suggesting Stapley could be a security risk against the president or other top administration officials.
"That's a pretty clear indication that (Arpaio and Thomas) are now publicly saying that Don Stapley poses some kind of a threat to the White House and to the vice president," Charlton said. "That's outrageous."