By Stacey Barchenger | Arizona Republic
Top members of Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs’ administration accused her Republican predecessor of illegally awarding about $210 million in federal COVID-19 response grants in his last days in office, and said Wednesday those grants were invalid as a result.
According to Hobbs’ aides, 19 grants to 16 organizations between Dec. 30 to Jan. 1 — the last three days of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s term — were given in violation of a state law that requires a competitive process before money is awarded. In a briefing with reporters, they alleged that Ducey and his top staffers intentionally amended grant paperwork in a rush job to prevent Hobbs from having a say over how the money is spent.
“It’s clear when you look at the amendments that were made by the Ducey administration at the 11th hour, that they were trying to bind the hands of the Hobbs administration, and prevent them from exercising responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds here,” said Sean Berens, senior counsel in Hobbs’ office.
Berens pledged a more broad review of grants awarded during Ducey’s tenure that drew on American Rescue Plan Act funds, to ensure they comply with state law and federal strings attached to the money.