Politics popping up in Maricopa County tax bill?

Posted at 7:08 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-14 01:52:58-04

The Maricopa County Treasurer is accused of using property tax bills to help a political ally's campaign. 

The bills, which recently arrived in mailboxes, include a letter from Chief Deputy Treasurer Royce Flora.

Flora is running in the November election to replace Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins, who is stepping down. Hoskins serves as Flora's campaign chairman.

The letters included Flora's name, his picture, a message, and his signature. They did not say he was running for treasurer, but the mailing would familiarize his name to potential voters countywide.

Mary Scanlon, a property owner and Democratic party volunteer, described the letter as "sort of a campaign message from him talking about the great customer service at his office."

Taxpayers say usually they receive just a property tax statement without any letters enclosed.

"I'd be very interested to know what the production costs were for this set of documents," Scanlon said.

After hearing about ABC15's story, Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo did some checking.

He says the treasurer spent $899,000 on mailings this year, compared to $831,000 in 2015.

It's unclear how much of the $68,000 difference was caused by adding the letter.

Flora, a Republican, is on the ballot against Democrat Joe Downs.

"He's [Flora's] campaigning on the public dime," Downs said. "I think this is just another example how one-party governance screws everything up after a while."

"Seems to me like it could almost be an abuse of the office," Scanlon said.

I phoned the treasurer's office and went in person seeking comment. Neither Hoskins nor Flora responded.

A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County's Recorder Office said the letter, while controversial, does not violate campaign finance laws, because it does not contain specific election language.