State House Speaker Jake Flake, R-Snowflake, will pick among several high-profile attorneys and their law firms to represent legislators in the possible impeachment of state utility regulator Jim Irvin.
Flake released a list of finalists Wednesday for what could become a six-month job of ousting Irvin from his seat at the Arizona Corporation Commission. Flake wants the law firms first to determine if there is enough evidence to impeach Irvin. If that is the case, the attorney would become the prosecutor in the
House hearings and if representatives supported impeachment, a trial would be held in the Senate.
The process could be lengthy and expensive for taxpayers with estimates at $1.5 million, Flake said. Flake said he hopes to have a decision soon. A preliminary inquiry by Rep. Steve Tully, R-Phoenix, concluded it appears Irvin "has committed acts incompatible with his duties as a public officer."
A federal court jury last year concluded Irvin used his position to undermine the bid of one company to purchase Southwest Gas, the state’s largest natural gas company. Irvin is asking Judge Roslyn Silver to eliminate or at least reduce the $60 million punitive damage award imposed by jurors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute Irvin, saying there were "no federal prosecutable criminal offenses" committed in connection with the Southwest Gas case.
Flake’s list includes: Melvin McDonald, Republican, a former U.S. attorney for Arizona; Ed Novak, Democrat, most recently known for his defense of Arthur Andersen in the Baptist Foundation of Arizona case; William Ridenour, Republican, who already represents state agencies in some commercial corporate matters; Lisa Hauser, Republican and a former assistant attorney general who represents the Arizona Republican Party; Alan Kamin, Democrat, who served for 20 years as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge and now is with the firm of Brown & Bain; and, Michael Wright, Republican, an attorney in private practice who represents financial institutions, developers, contractors and other corporations.