October 4, 2018

Local governments are supposed to spend tax money on police and other public services. But Pima County officials chose instead to spend $15 million to build a headquarters building and balloon launching pad for a luxury adventure tourism company instead—and in the process, they engaged in a classic example of the sort of backroom deals that the Constitution forbids.

Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur was a guest on last Friday’s Wake Up! Tucson to give an update on our lawsuit challenging the legality of that Pima County project. As Sandefur explained, not only did the county spend millions of public dollars to benefit a private company, but County officials also didn’t bother to follow the law when it came to hiring an architect and a contractor to build the facilities for the balloon company. Instead, they invited the contractor and architect to six months’ worth of secret meetings during which they completed almost a third of the entire project before the County Board of Supervisors was even informed. Then, when the Board was asked to decide whether to hire the contractor and the architect, county bureaucrats told the Supervisors to hire these companies, because they’d already done a third of the work.

The reason state law imposes such hiring requirements, Sandefur explained, is to prevent county officials from engaging in just this sort of favoritism. If bureaucrats can plan a project behind the scenes, and then use that planning as an excuse to disregard the hiring requirements, then those requirements are meaningless.

You can hear the full segment above, and click here to learn more about Rodgers v. Pima County.

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