Regents file Bar complaint against Brnovich

Attorney General Mark Brnovich speaks at the 2020 Converge Tech Summit at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. /Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services  December 20, 2021

The Arizona Board of Regents is asking that Attorney General Mark Brnovich be investigated and disciplined by the agency that regulates lawyers. 

In a complaint obtained by Capitol Media Services, board Chairman Larry Penley accused Brnovich, who strictly speaking is the legal counsel for the board and the universities, of actively criticizing and actually filing lawsuits against them. 

All that, Penley is telling the State Bar of Arizona, violates a series of rules that govern the ethical conduct of attorneys. 

That most immediately starts an investigation which could result in anything from no action through a reprimand or even a suspension or revocation of his ability to practice law. And if those last options were the outcome, Brnovich would lose his job because the Arizona Constitution requires that the attorney general be a licensed attorney. 

The complaint actually was filed last year but remained sealed under State Bar rules. 

A copy was obtained by Capitol Media Services Monday after Brnovich disqualified himself earlier this month from arguing a case against the regents and Arizona State University based on the complaint. 

Penley, in the complaint, said this isn’t just some isolated incident. 

“Over the past two years, Brnovich has mounted a litigation and media campaign against the board and Arizona’s public universities,” Penley wrote, particularly Arizona State University. 

“He has done so despite representing the Board of Regents and the universities in numerous pending lawsuits,” the complaint states. “And he has done so without seeking ABOR’s consent to the conflict and in fact over our repeated objections to his breach of his fundamental duty of loyalty.” 

And Penley had specifics. 

Consider the lawsuit Brnovich filed against the university system over what he contends is illegally high tuition. 

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