Pueblo Politics: Tea Party wants criminal Rio Nuevo investigation

2010-11-29T17:05:00Z 2010-11-29T17:10:40Z Pueblo Politics: Tea Party wants criminal Rio Nuevo investigationBy Rob O'Dell Arizona Daily Star
November 29, 2010 5:05 pm  • 

On the date of a public hearing on the Rio Nuevo Audit, the Pima County Tea Party Patriots are asking for a criminal investigation into Rio Nuevo.

The Tea Party said they have sent letters to Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert Mueller and Attorney General Tom Horne “demanding a full criminal investigation into the misuse of $230 million in public funds associated with the Rio Nuevo Development effort.”

It’s unclear whether either organization would take up the Tea Party’s call, as to date there have been no known criminal investigations of Rio Nuevo, despite its high profile.

The activists are “questioning whether there was a deliberate policy designed to violate state law and deploy a system of shoddy record keeping in order to mask a conspiracy to reward favored consultants and contractors with public mon is as well as to siphon district monies to the City of Tucson in order to sustain the political careers of certain elected officials.”

The audit, conducted by Crowe Horwath of Los Angeles for the state auditor general, found that the city’s Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment district was beset by mismanagement and a lack of financial oversight and internal controls that left a majority of its projects incomplete after more than $230 million was spent.

It also found more than half of Rio Nuevo's projects are incomplete or on hold; the city's Rio Nuevo financial data on projects was “abbreviated, incomplete and confusing”; money was spent on projects not congruent with Rio Nuevo's mission; and the city charged Rio Nuevo excessive interest rates for the district’s unpaid loan balances.

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The Arizona Daily Star's Pueblo Politics blog includes stories and related items from the Tucson and Pima County political scene written by Star reporters Becky Pallack and Joe Ferguson.

Have a political topic you would like to see in the blog or suggestions? Email Becky Pallack at bpallack@tucson.com and Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com