A Phoenix lawyer will now be reviewing all of the Pima County Attorney’s Office requests for funds from its own anti-racketeering account.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to hire J. Arthur Eaves as outside counsel, two months after the board stripped Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall of her ability to make recommendations to the board regarding use of the account’s funds.
A 2017 change to state law says the board of supervisors must review and approve the county attorney’s requests from the Anti-Racketeering Revolving Fund, which LaWall previously had the discretion to approve on her own.
The federal money, which comes from funds seized from individuals accused of crimes, is meant to be used by the County Attorney’s Office and local law-enforcement agencies for crime-fighting and crime-prevention purposes.
Eaves will be responsible for reviewing each request and making a recommendation to the board on whether to approve or deny the funding request.
Prior to the November decision to to remove LaWall’s office as the decision-making authority for anti-racketeering funds, Chief Civil Deputy Andrew Flagg acted as counsel to the board on such issues, which supervisors said was a conflict of interest.
Eaves created and implemented a program for the Maricopa Board of Supervisors to use for review of the Maricopa County Attorney’s RICO expenditures.
In a December email to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, Eaves wrote that while some of the work he did for Maricopa would benefit Pima County, “each county has its own unique issues which will need to be addressed in implementing a program like this.”
In the email, Eaves also recommended that LaWall submit budgets to him for initial analysis so that he can analyze whether or not he believes the expenditures are appropriate.
While LaWall no longer has the final word in use of her office’s RICO funds, she is still required to approve requests and in December, denied the supervisors request to use the anti-racketeering fund to pay to employ Eaves.
In a Dec. 22 memo to the board, LaWall declined to authorize the use of funds, deferring to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s previous decision that the statute doesn’t allow for such an expenditure.
After LaWall’s action, Eaves’ compensation will be absorbed by Pima County’s general fund.
Huckelberry previously recommended that supervisors retain Eaves on a case-by-case basis to review whether the request for RICO funds falls into permissible use.