How Much Longer Before AZGOP Stonewalling Takes on the Odor of Deliberate Malfeasance? Or has it, already?



2016: In Breach as Treasurer – Jonathan Lines never ordered the audit the bylaws required to be complete BEFORE the Statutory Meeting in late January 2017. Purpose of that rule: To have books ready for the new treasurer.


Period from January 28, 2017-June 2017--

Kept the first Breach & Added Two New Ones:

1) Refused to give any permanent records to the new secretary, limiting the tasks she could perform.

2) Refused to give any records from the period prior to 2/1/2017 to the new treasurer, creating all-new Quickbooks and bank accounts for the treasurer.

3) Failed to call for audit of 2016 from January till June of 2017.


Period from June 17, 2017-the present –

Lines continues in breach, today: 

1) Lines still refuses to give the permanent records to Secretary Gabby Mercer.

2) Lines associates at ExComm erupted noisily, when Steve Slaton moved that the body order Lines to give the secretary her permanent records. Several of their comments were called out of order by acting presider, Al Gage (a professional parliamentarian), only on the initiative of Steve Slaton, who certified, by citing Robert’s Rules, that they WERE out of order.



So Many Questions for PCs & State Committeemen to Think About:


As treasurer, why would Jonathan Lines fail to call for the 2016 audit prior to the Statutory Meeting, as bylaws require?
This one question breeds 30 others: 

Was it simply incompetence? If not, then was Lines inattentive to, or often absent from, his job? Or was he really just Treasurer-in-Name-Only? If Lines took his oath of office, but never actually served as treasurer, would that not be another breach of the bylaws?

Or, worse, would there be something fraudulent about—in essence--posing as the treasurer, while someone unknown handled the books in a totally unofficial capacity? Is it even imaginable that such a thing could be the case? And, if so, then who, indeed, was it who held and kept the books for those two years? And who named that person to do the treasurer’s job?

Does imagining even the possibility of a “ghost-treasurer” on the payroll of the AZGOP make any PCs or state committeemen roll their eyes and feel squeamish? To get a sense of how such a scenario might somehow unfold, one would have to envision quite a strange succession of events, in which a party would hold an official election to fill an office, but then ignore the results, and, instead, placing an unidentified person into the elective seat that was just filled. How would it feel, though, to be one of the state committeemen who voted in such an election, and find out it was secretly voided the instant it was finalized?

Personally, how would a state committeeman feel on discovering that he or she had voted for a person who was elected, but elected-in-name-only? That is, voted for a winner who never served! What kind of picture comes to your mind of what a hypothetical party administration responsible for that would look like? Is it a picture of an administration that’s being run like a private “family business,” accountable to no one—not fiscally nor any other way? Is such a thing possible in the modern world?

Could anything like this ever happen under the nose of a sitting chairman? Is it outlandish or out of the question to conceive a scenario in which Lines was groomed to run for chairman to succeed Graham? Would it fit such a scenario for Lines to have been instructed to run for treasurer, to increase his likelihood of success in the 2017 election for chairman?


If any of these hypothetical questions hit anywhere near actual deeds, would the implications be considered par for the course or as a devastating indictment of the current state of the Arizona GOP?


Take, for instance, Lines’ announcement, about two weeks after his election, that he had been surprised by Robert Graham’s revelation that the party had incurred $250,000 in debt. How is it possible that, as the serving treasurer, he did not know?


How certain is anyone in the party that all $250k of debt consists of ballot harvesting legal fees? Why would our party volunteer to take responsibility for the crushing ballot harvesting legal fees, when the state is actually responsible for them, according to many? Are there, in truth, other expenses mixed in there with the ballot harvesting, such as legal fees for the legal action against LD 23, just prior to the statutory meeting in January 2017? Are there any costs in there that have nothing to do with party business? If so, incurred by whom? And for what? And how can the state committee pin down that information, for sure? Do you believe the state committee has a responsibility to pin down that information? 


How many of us have heard people tell the story about Robert Graham having used AZGOP funds to travel and campaign for RNC chair across the country, with wife and kids, in the summer of 2016? How many have heard the related story about $80,000 some say Robert Graham spent throwing a free concert at the Cleveland convention, for the purpose, according to the story, of ingratiating himself with potential RNC voters? Are those stories true? How many would like to know? How can the state committee verify that no AZGOP funds were used for those purposes? Does the state committee have a right to get to the bottom of all expenditures by the party administration? 


Do any of these questions place in a different light the refusal by Lines to deliver the books to the treasurer, until many months went by?

How many reading this see the sudden surrender of the 2016 financial books to the Treasurer, after 4 ½ months, equally as mystifying as the previous refusal to surrender them? Is it conspiracy theory to entertain the notion that 4 ½ months would be enough time to change the books so they could pass muster in the eyes of the new treasurer?

Hypothetically--and even fantasmagorically—what alternate reason might you imagine for someone to hold, hold, hold, and then give up the books? We could probably ask this question till we’re blue in the face: Who was in actual possession of those financial records, during those 4 ½ months?



Why Does Chairman Lines Keep Refusing to Give Secretary Gabby Mercer the AZGOP Permanent Records, as Required by the Bylaws?

This One Question Breeds 15 more: 

What is it about the permanent records that causes Chairman Lines not to want to give them to the secretary? Is there something in them that he does not want her to see? What might fall under the category of things in the permanent records that Chairman Lines might not want Gabby Mercer to see?

How is it that, at the Statutory Meeting, January 28, 2017, everyone on Chairman Lines’ slate did not win—only Chairman Lines? How is it that everyone on Jim O’Connor’s slate did not win—only Gabby and Bob? What is the usual outcome, when people run together as a slate?

On the multiple occasions that Gabby Mercer has gone to the AZGOP headquarters--with witnesses in tow--to demand the permanent records, who has been there to refuse her demands? Has only Chairman Lines met with Gabby? Which AZGOP employees, and which elective or appointed officials have performed the task of rebuffing her lawful demands? Has the general counsel met with Gabby?


If so, has he given her a reason that conforms to the Bylaws and also justifies refusing her lawful demand for the permanent records the Bylaws require her to keep, as secretary?


If the general counsel, who the bylaws stipulate “shall advise the chairman and the committees on all legal matters,” has explained to the secretary why she cannot have the permanent records that the Bylaws require her to have, does that explanation constitute “advising” her, as the Bylaws require? Or would such an explanation by an AZGOP general counsel constitute placing himself in a state of conflict of interest? Would it constitute taking the side of the chairman--who is in breach of the bylaws for refusing to provide the permanent records—AGAINST the secretary who continues to lawfully demand those records? 


Is it proper for one elected or appointed official to, in any way, prevent any other elected or appointed official from doing his or her job? Do any of Chairman Lines’ actions--or refusals to act--contradict the oath of office he took when elected, either as treasurer or as chairman, or both? If so, what would that say about the current state of the party that elected him?

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Replies to This Discussion

EDITOR: I respect Jim Ehl's comments and I as a member of the AzRA hope they launch something soon.  You mention the "Elected district chairmen".  Are you referring to the Legislative District chairs?

I am in LD14 which does not have voting rights at the Executive Committee meetings.  But am a PC/State Committeeman in Cochise County.  There are some concerns and one of mine is the AZGOP use the lack of knowledge and experience of PCs regarding (RRO) Robert's Rules of Order.  I have schedule training sessions for RRO as the AZGOP administration seems to me misusing RRO to maintain control and power.

Thanks for your response, Bruce.  We do mean district AND County chairs who are members of that committee.  We know they don't get to vote but they do have the numbers to put the right kind of pressure on the ExeCom to do the right thing.  We have not seen that outside of Slaton (Navajo) and Sais (LaPaz).  They are among the smallest counties but have the bravest hearts.  We don't think the conservatives have the majority of the districts/counties but it's close enough to force action.  BTW, state committeemen should get involved with this, too.  It was their election and it was stolen for Lines.  You are exactly right about how the AZGOP manipulates the RROs but there is no reason everyone in attendance should not have a copy of those rules at every meeting.

As to AZRA, is there a chapter in Cochise County?  If not, why not gather a few discontented republicans together and start one and be part of the real Republican party - exercise your rights there?  Caution: AZRA is not the tea party, most, but not all, of which held great meetings but outside of 2010, never did things to impact what was happening.  What would happen if a 100 engaged AZRA members started showing up at those meetings and you were one of them?  All but one of our team members are part of that organization.

I agree that Slaton and Sais are brave hearts.  I have reached out to Sais regarding the By-laws committee.  I accepted the challenge of 4th Vice Chair in LD14 in charge of programs and am bringing in speakers such as Bruce Ash, Frank Riggs and Tom Morrissey.  We are also working on training for Robert's Rules of Order as that seems to be the means of the AZGOP elites retaining control and power; ala professional parliamentarians. I am working to awaken the Cochise county PCs.

LD14 consists of Cochise and very small Greenlee counties as bastions of Republican constitutional conservatives.  We also have Graham county - enough said, but a few good PCs from that county.  Also a small Eastern slice of Pima with some great PCs in LD14 but little ability to impact the liberals in that county.  So we are working to join the brave Northern counties with the S.E. AZ PCs to apply a squeeze on the elites in the middle of the state.

As to AzRA, I am a member and it has only been a matter of priorities and time before we start a chapter.  Happy to hear the AFA staff are members.

pick a date we can meet on sat we can bring a donation to give to Gabby and take over the headquarters and have a set in until Lions resigns. Have Trump Back us.

The AFA posting by Marianne Ferrari raises serious issues as well as damning questions. I have quoted some in italics from her posting. Comments to her posting raise the issue of transparency.

I conclude the AZGOP is being run like a private enterprise not accountable to the Executive Committee or State Committee PCs – accountable to no one—not fiscally nor any other way!

In fact a legal request should be made from several members of the AZGOP Executive Committee to the state Attorney General for an investigation into the Lines and Graham administrations for corruption.

Why are no minutes to be found on AZ.GOP web site for the Statutory Organizational Meeting and Mandatory Meeting minutes? Has there been any Finance Committee meeting? And where or who keeps minutes of the Finance Committee? I have sent a request to Treasurer Lettieri and Secretary Mercer for a copy of those minutes.

Impairment of statutory elected officers should be sufficient grounds for requesting that investigation. Possibly the Attorney General request may have to come from the Secretary and Treasurer. Article V Committees A. Executive Committee states the only responsibility: The executive committee shall approve the annual budget and review and counsel the state chairman on all programs relating to the state party. The only meaningful responsibility in that statement is the approval of the state party budget.

Before the January 2017 election, Jonathan Lines, AZGOP Treasurer and AZGOP Chair candidate and I discussed on the phone an audit of the AZGOP accounting records. I asked if it was being done by a CPA firm. He said yes actually two audits were to take place or will be soon. One was an internal review and the other by a CPA firm. I asked for the name of the CPA firm but Chairman Lines could not remember the name. Was he just Treasurer-in-Name-Only? Probably. If Lines took his oath of office, but never actually served as treasurer, would that not be another breach of the bylaws? YES

Take, for instance, Lines’ announcement, about two weeks after his election, that he had been surprised by Robert Graham’s revelation that the party had incurred $250,000 in debt. How is it possible that, as the serving treasurer, he did not know? The answer is very simple Lines was Treasurer in name only and guilty of dereliction of responsibilities.

How would it feel, though, to be one of the state committeemen who voted in such an election, and find out it was secretly voided the instant it was finalized? My response would be the same as at the state convention when I decided to walk out when a new vote needed to get a valid tally. I did not respect the voting procedures as potentially corruptible.

How can the executive committee verify that no AZGOP funds were used for purposes unrelated to AZGOP official business?

The answer is an Independent CPA firm reporting directly to the Exec-comm.

Secretary Gabby Mercer should send to the legal consul a certified letter requesting an explanation of why she can not have the records. Any response from general counsel must be in writing.

If the general counsel, who the bylaws stipulate “shall advise the chairman and the committees on all legal matters,” has explained to the secretary why she cannot have the permanent records that the Bylaws require her to have, does that explanation constitute “advising” her, as the Bylaws require? Or would such an explanation by an AZGOP general counsel constitute placing himself in a state of conflict of interest?

One of the CPA audit charges of engagement has to be to investigate and report to the Exec-comm.

This has gone on very long and I don't believe an ordinary audit will reveal what is still hidden or items that have been removed from the records.  Months have gone by with no one knowing who had control of the books and we know the new treasurer didn't get any books older than January 2017 yet he will be held accountable for those books sooner or later.  I suggest a forensic audit not a CPA audit is the ONLY way to find the facts about what has gone on with the money in AZGOP.  Agree with Ehl and Piepho - the committee chairs must stand up publicly and visibly to the AZGOP, en masse.

No one would know until an audit is conducted.  At Control Data, I applied some generic reporting generators to the Accounts Receivable tape files for a small division. Printed off a ream of paper of aged receivables and the auditors went crazy some millions were past due and in a few instances over 2 years old.  An accounting manager was fired.  So one never knows what is in the books.

I agree the books could be cooked.  That Control Data accounting manager thought he had buried it all.

I do agree a forensic audit would be great.  Who would do the forensic audit the FBI?  Any suggestions as to how to get the FBI involved?

Bruce, there are people in Arizona with special credentials in financial investigation who do only forensic audits.  I don' t know any but I'll bet it wouldn't be hard to find one.  The trick is that they are very expensive because they do very indepth work.  AZGOP would have to pay the bill.  The FBI would never get involve in something like this because the AZGOP is considered to be a private club.  Title 16 notwithstanding!

Jaspergoat - your wisdom is excellent.  Could you find and develop a list of qualified forensic auditors and distribute that information to the AZ County GOP Chairmen/women?

If you can not do that - who will?

Bruce - I travel a lot on business but I'll give it a go. How do I contact the AZ County GOP Chairmen?  Who are those people?  Would that be Lori Corbin Klein?

Well, thanks to the Edit button, I can add this that I found by doing an internet search of forensic auditors in Arizona:  http://azforensicaccounting.com/  There is actually an Arizona Auditor General.  Maybe a call there would pay off?

Jaspergoat - May your travels be safe and enjoyable.

AZ GOP County officers are listed as public information as public elected officials.  That is what we as Precinct Committeemen are - elected by our neighbors.  I have the AZ County GOP chair list and am converting to an email group listing.  I will share that information. There are some errors in the list but hopefully all that can be flushed out.

I will look up the Arizona Auditor General, see what contact and responsibilities of that office.

The Arizona Auditor General is a legislative position in the Arizona state government. The auditor general serves as an "independent source of impartial information concerning state and local governmental entities and provides specific recommendations to improve [their] operations." His or her office determines whether state agencies use their resources effectively and comply with applicable laws. It also establishes accounting and budgeting standards. Though the auditor general is not involved in the lawmaking process, he is technically a part of the legislative branch and is appointed by the legislature.

The scope is limited to state agencies.  So is not suitable as a source of corrective action regarding the AZGOP practices, potential corruption and abuse of by-laws





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