Smith: My ethics complaint filed against Scottsdale Councilwoman Solange Whitehead

I have filed an ethics complaint against Councilwoman Solange Whitehead, in accordance with Scottsdale Revised Code, Article II, Chapter 2, Division 3, Sec.2-55, for the following reasons.

David Smith

On May 17, 2019, I filed a Campaign Finance Complaint against NoDDC, NoDDC PAC, No-DDC Inc., Jason Alexander, Mike Norton and Rebecca Holmes.

In the complaint I referenced 10 different Arizona Revised Statutes that “appeared to have been violated.” I filed as a third-party complainant, in accordance with Arizona Revised Statute (ARS §16: Elections and Electors), to protect the integrity of Scottsdale’s election process, although many NoDDC supporters considered the filing as “double jeopardy” and dismissed it as a tirade from a sore loser.

On June 19 Scottsdale’s City Clerk issued an Investigative Findings and Determination Report (as she is required to do under ARS §16-938, acting in her official capacity as filing officer.) Her report agreed with every complaint and found “reasonable cause to believe” numerous Arizona election statutes had been violated, including depositing donations to personal accounts; using campaign donations for personal expenses; and using corporate funds for political contributions to council candidates during the 2018 council races.

The Clerk’s Investigative Findings and Determination Report was then referred to Scottsdale’s City Attorney, as Enforcement Officer for campaign finance complaints, pursuant to Arizona law.

Before the City Attorney could act, Councilwoman Solange Whitehead fired off an email on June 21 to City Manager, Jim Thompson that began, “I am writing to request that this be dropped immediately.” A few minutes later, she sent a second email to correct a few typos, but insisted again, “I want this dropped…”

At the end of her emails she added, “The City can either drop this quietly or we can choose to poke the public hornet’s nest.”

Since Mr. Thompson serves at the pleasure of council, asking him to do something illegal must have put him in an awkward position. Our City Manager wisely deflected Councilwoman Whitehead’s order to drop the matter in his response to her, “I do not get involved in these matters as it is strictly a legal matter.”

But, Councilwoman Whitehead didn’t stop there.

Ordinary citizens, saturated with national news stories for over a year, will recognize this for what it was…an attempt to obstruct justice.

The City of Scottsdale Code of Ethical Behavior (“Ethics Code”) was adopted by the City Council on May 2, 2006 and incorporated in our Scottsdale Revised Code, Sections 2-47 through 2-58. It reads, in part:

  • Sec. 2-48 (a) It is the policy of the City of Scottsdale to uphold, promote and demand the highest standards of ethical behavior from its mayor, members of the city council. Honesty integrity, fairness, and transparency of action are the hallmarks of public service in Scottsdale. Use of one’s office or position for personal gain or inappropriate influence will not be tolerated.
  • Sec. 2-48 (b) All city officials shall obey and observe the letter and spirit of the constitution and laws of the United States of America, the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, and the charter, laws, and policies of the City of Scottsdale applicable to city officials, including the city’s ethics code.
  • Sec. 2-48 (c) As a prerequisite for exercising any power of office, each city official is required to read and agree in writing to comply with the provisions of these laws…

Additionally, every new Councilmember is required to swear an oath (as Ms Whitehead did on Jan. 8, 2019) “…to support the laws of the State of Arizona and bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

To explain Jason Alexander’s actions, Councilwoman Whitehead wrote, “Jason Alexander did not read the Arizona Statutes nor should he have to.” According to Sec. 2-48 (c), she cannot plead the same defense for herself.

On July 1, Scottsdale’s Acting City Attorney Joe Padilla, in his capacity as Enforcement Officer, made the decision to refer the investigation to the Phoenix City Attorney, Cris Meyer. Under Arizona statute, such referrals can be made in the case of real or perceived conflicts of interest, but Mr. Padilla gave no reason for this referral.

Regardless of the City Phoenix Attorney’s final determination, this Ethics Complaint I filed arises from Councilwoman Solange Whitehead’s attempts, through the use of her office and veiled threats, to abort the investigative process prescribed by state law.

Scottsdale residents deserve and should have trust in their elected representatives to represent the laws of our city, our state and our nation, all of which protect our citizens.

Editor’s note: Mr. Smith is a resident of Scottsdale, a former member of Scottsdale City Council and served as the city treasurer

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