PHOENIX — The showdown is on the books. In just weeks, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and suspended County Assessor Paul Petersen will face off over his job.
"The issue on December 11, as it's been throughout this, is whether there was neglect of duty by the county assessor," said board chairman Bill Gates.
The battle between the board and Petersen will be fought on two fronts.
One, has Paul Petersen neglected his job as county assessor since being indicted on charges of human smuggling tied to his private adoption business? And two, does the board have the power to suspend an elected official?
"We looked at the neglect of duty that this board has voted on, we've looked at two things, one that we the period he was detained and number two, those documents that were on his computer," said Gates regarding the county’s audit of Petersen's county devices.
As part of the public hearing in December, Petersen can call witnesses, as well as provide evidence for his case.
His attorneys delivered a list of requests to the board prior to Wednesday's announcement, asking for a slew of documents in hopes of showing the board members who suspended Petersen committed neglect of duty themselves. See their request for evidence below.
They're asking for things like copies of hard drives of all computers, cell phones and other county devices issued to the supervisors and even Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.
Also in the list of demands are parking records and other documents that show how frequently supervisors and other county officials were in county buildings. It also requests that a number of county officials listed in the document be ready to testify.
"This hearing that we have just set on December 11 is regarding Paul Petersen and whether he had neglect of duty, so he's certainly free to present any evidence that he would like to relating to that, but this is not about other county officers, that's not what this hearing is about," said Gates.
A previous audit by the board found Petersen doing work for his adoption business on county computers is at the crux of the suspension, claiming it showed he neglected his duties.
It is yet to be seen if they're willing to comply with a similar audit of their own devices, and the chairman not offering a clear answer.
"We will turn over all those records they're entitled to," said Gates.
In the end, the board will ultimately decide if the suspension remains.
ABC15 received this statement from Paul Petersen's attorney Kory Langhofer following the boards announcement Wednesday:
"We're looking for a fair investigation and hearing. The hearing before the board of supervisors will obviously be a farce, so we'll go to court afterwards. Once we're in a neutral forum and have subpoena power, Paul has good odds.”
Click here to read the full request for evidence from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.