Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives have invoked their legal right on Monday to request an investigation by Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) over their concerns regarding how federal COVID-19 money was spent by Yuma County officials.
In a letter, lawmakers asked Mayes to launch an investigation to determine if the appointment of Nebraska-based Allo Communications by Yuma County to build rural Internet infrastructure violated both “state law and the Gift Clause of the Arizona Constitution,” in addition to “favoritism and abuse through a fundamentally flawed and potentially illegal procurement process.”
State Representatives Laurin Hendrix (R-Gilbert) (pictured above) led a letter including signatures from Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Justin Heap (R-Mesa), Alexander Kolodin (R-Scottsdale), David Marshall (R-Snowflake) and Barbara Parker (R-Mesa) requesting Mayes launch an SB 1487 investigation.
“We cannot ignore Yuma County’s apparent disregard of Arizona law and the lack of oversight and accountability surrounding this critical project,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
The lawmakers note that Yuma County received money from the Biden administration’s COVID-19 funding programs to provide rural Internet access to its residents, and after a series of meetings of the county’s Board of Supervisors, entered into an agreement with Allo to build the infrastructure.
Minutes of the 2022 meeting of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors reveals there was concern that the agreement with Allo would violate Arizona law due to the company’s lack of a contractor’s license within the state, but the supervisors voted to adopt their agreement with Allo as-is, and did not add provisions about the license dispute.
According to minutes of the January 26, 2022 meeting of the board, an attorney representing competing Gila Electronics warned that “he conducted a search and there is no contractor license in Arizona issued to ALLO Communications, which poses a concern since this is a construction contract.” The attorney, Barry Olsen, then noted “Gila Electronics is a licensed contractor and their proposal submitted was still the lowest price.”
Representatives of Allo claimed they were happy to comply with Arizona regulations, and the agreement was ultimately adopted.
Despite the newly raised questions about the legality of Yuma County’s agreement with Allo, recent reports indicate the company is “ahead of schedule and under budget” in its installation, and Yuma County may reward Allo with additional work to provide Internet to more rural Arizonans.
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Tom Pappert is the lead reporter for The Tennessee Star, and also reports for The Georgia Star News, The Virginia Star, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Tom on X/Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “State Rep Laurin Hendrix” by Arizona House of Representatives and “Utilities” by the City of Yuma.
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Author: Tom Pappert
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