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Moss: No special favors given to Mohave County donors
Mohave County District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss
1/15/2013 6:01:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Mohave County District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss said he's not trading favors for campaign donations after the Board of Supervisors reappointed his campaign treasurer to the county planning and zoning commission and approved a two-year lease with a company owned by two of his campaign donors.
Moss says he was unaware the building he picked out for his new office is owned by two of his campaign donors - Robert Schwartzman and Stacey Sanderson. Sanderson was contacted for this story but did not return a phone call before deadline.
"The county gave me a list of about a half a dozen places to look at," he said. "This actually wasn't my first choice.
"I was looking at another office, but they wanted the same amount of money for a space that was about a thousand square feet smaller."
According to campaign finance records, Schwartzman donated $430 to Moss' campaign in May and Sanderson donated $200 in July.
"The county (Procurement Department) is the one who negotiated the lease," he said. "Anyone can donate to a campaign. There is no quid pro quo here."
Mehdi Azarmi, a county planning and zoning commissioner and Moss' campaign treasurer, also donated $430 in February. He was reappointed to serve as a zoning commissioner for Moss' district.
Azarmi was contacted but did not return a phone call before deadline.
Moss pointed out that Arizona Revised Statute 38-503 defines a conflict of interest as "Any public officer or employee of a public agency who has, or whose relative has, a substantial interest in any contract, sale, purchase or service to (a) public agency."
Ruth Jones, a professor at
Arizona State University
's Department of Political Science, said the relationship seemed "cozy."
"As long as the contributions are within the contribution limits (and these appear to be), almost anyone can make a contribution to a campaign," she wrote in an email to the Miner.
Moss said while he is friends with Schwartzman, Azarmi and the Sandersons, they are not related to him and he has not gotten any money out of the lease of the building or from reappointing Azarmi.
Moss also pointed out that former District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell appointed Azarmi to the commission more than four years ago. Moss said he didn't support Sockwell's bid for re-election last year. He threw his support behind Angius, who eventually won the seat.
"I think Mehdi is a good man. We don't always agree with each other, but I like that when he disagrees with me, he disagrees to my face," Moss said. "I still thought he made a pretty good choice."
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