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Sect. of State candidate Bolding accused of influence peddling

Posted at 8:00 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 23:02:21-04

PHOENIX — One of the Democratic candidates for Arizona Secretary of State, Reginald Bolding, is accused of influence peddling, according to a letter and documents sent to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Bolding, who has been a State Representative since 2014, founded a political consulting company called Blue Wave Victory. Arizona Corporation Commission candidate Kiana Sears hired Bolding in 2018.

The letter stated Sears paid Bolding's company $18,500 and included a copy of the alleged contract.

Among the services agreed to, was “partnership development,” which was described as making connections with federal, state, local, and non-profit leaders. Bolding's name is at the bottom of the contract.

According to the letter, the contract “constitutes bribery or an attempt to benefit from the peddling of influence.” Scott Meyer, a Fontes supporter and environmental activist, wrote the letter, called Bolding’s alleged actions “appalling,” and cited a criminal political bribery statute, ARS 13-2602.

Meyer is asking the Attorney General’s Office for a fact-finding investigation.

Bolding issued the following statement in response to ABC15’s inquiry about the influence-peddling accusations:

I'm disappointed that Mr. Fontes has put his political aspirations before saving taxpayer dollars with baseless claims. I have always followed all laws and regulations. While Mr. Fontes resorts to dirty tricks to prop up his failing campaign, I'm running a positive campaign and building coalitions to save our democracy from insurrectionists.

Jevin Hodge, who worked with Bolding at Blue Wave Victory, is also named in the influence-peddling complaint.

Meyer’s letter claimed both men, “in their capacity as ‘Public Servants,’ essentially sold their positions as a means of access to others in exchange for monetary gain.”

In 2018, Hodge was serving as a volunteer vice chairman in the Arizona Democratic Party. Hodge is currently a Democratic candidate in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.

“Jevin, in his capacity as a private citizen and someone who cares about elections in our state, helped out a campaign several years ago,” said Jon Sutton, a senior advisor to Hodge’s campaign. “It was completely by the books, and this is a non-story.”

ABC15 also tried to reach Sears by phone and email today. We got no response.

The Attorney General’s Office would not confirm or deny whether there is a criminal investigation involving Bolding.

A spokesperson did say the office takes all complaints very seriously.

Meyer also filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this week claiming Bolding's non-profit group, Our Voice, Our Vote AZ is violating campaign finance laws by making independent expenditures in support of his campaign.

Bolding denied those accusations last week, and he gave ABC15 a copy of his "firewall policy" designed to ensure laws are followed.

ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius is covering the 2022 Secretary of State race. Got a news tip? Email Melissa at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.