Court rejects Brnovich challenge to ASU hotel deal over filing issue

Attorney General Mark Brnovich

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected efforts by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to challenge what he contends is an illegal deal by the Arizona Board of Regents to build a hotel and conference center.

In an 11-page ruling, the judges sidestepped the attorney general’s contention that the deal violates the gift clause of the Arizona Constitution. They also did not address whether the deal was creating an improper tax exemption for the hotel because it is being built on tax-exempt university property.

What the judges did say is that Brnovich waited too long to file his claim.

In doing so, however, the appellate court left unresolved the question of whether the regents can engage in similar deals in the future. That means Brnovich might be able to sue to block similar deals in the future at any of the state’s three universities — if he files suit on time.

At the core of this lawsuit is a plan to exempt from taxes a parcel that Arizona State University owns on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive. A pending deal would create a 330-room Omni hotel and a 30,000-square-foot conference center.

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