ormer House Speaker David Gowan deliberately put off the release of public records last year to buy time to disguise questionable spending by his staff, himself, and fellow lawmakers. At the heart of the matter is a whitewashed spreadsheet purporting to document the chamber’s sharp increase in travel expenses under Gowan.
The House took eight months to disclose the spreadsheet as part of a public records request the Arizona Capitol Times made on January 19, 2016, but Gowan’s administration never turned over the underlying travel records that the newspaper requested and from which the spreadsheet was built.
Those records are also part of an investigation by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the findings of which are expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Some of the lawmakers and staff whose questionable spending is documented are either running for statewide office in 2018, vying to return to the Legislature or holding high level government jobs.More than a year after the Capitol Times filed its initial request and after Gowan had officially left office, his successor, Speaker J.D. Mesnard, turned over a trove of documents – thousands of pages of travel request forms, receipts, state credit card statements, conference registrations, emails and other documents – that show the full extent of the freewheeling travel spending of House staffers and lawmakers under Gowan.And emails from the Gowan administration, also turned over by Mesnard, show staff attempted to disguise some of that spending by providing the Capitol Times with the whitewashed summary of the chamber’s travel costs in a spreadsheet.