Friday, January 8, 2016

House Speaker David Gowan Sure Does Put a Lot of Miles on State-Owned Cars at Your Expense

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Anti-spending AZ House Speaker David Gowan: All hat, no shame
  • Anti-spending AZ House Speaker David Gowan: All hat, no shame
Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times breaks a blockbuster story about how House Speaker and congressional candidate David Gowan has been using a state vehicle to travel across his would-be congressional district:
In the weeks surrounding his congressional campaign announcement, Gowan was zig-zagging across the massive CD1, which is nearly as large as the state of Iowa. It spans from Four Corners and Flagstaff in the north, down to through Casa Grande and the northern suburbs of Tucson. In his travels, Gowan spoke to Republican groups and voters in Tuba City, Casa Grande, Flagstaff and Safford.

Public records and social media show Gowan wasn’t alone on some of those long drives.

The records show Cloud, a public employee, rented a state-owned vehicle and drove Gowan to several political events in CD1, hundreds of miles from the Capitol or his legislative district in southern Arizona.

Gowan declined to comment on the travels, but House Republican spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the events were strictly related to his job as speaker, not his campaign for Congress.

“Gowan always says he’s the speaker for the whole state of Arizona, and I think it’s been pretty clear that he is. He goes all over the state. He tries to speak at and appear at as many things as he can when he gets invited, and he wishes he could do more,” Grisham said.

She said Gowan and his staffers are very careful about not using state resources for campaign events, and frequently have discussions about whether events could be construed as campaign-related.

But Tom Ryan, a Chandler-based personal injury attorney who has made a name for himself as a crusader against Arizona political corruption, reviewed some of the records obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times. He disagreed that the events could be considered anything but campaign-related.

Ryan said the violations of state law are so “stunning” that he intends to bring a legal complaint against Gowan and several of his close allies. He accused them of violating not only the laws governing the use of the state vehicle fleet, but also violating the state’s prohibition on using government resources for a campaign purpose.
A great detail from the story:

On Thursday, Oct. 1, House Sergeant-at-Arms Billy Cloud went to the Arizona Department of Administration building and picked up the keys to a state-owned car. It was clearly marked, as all state fleet vehicles are, with a sticker noting it is “for official use only.”

On the forms to rent the car, Cloud stated his destination was Tucson. That afternoon, Cloud drove House Speaker David Gowan home to Cochise County, where Cloud also lives.

Nineteen days later, when he returned the car, Cloud had put more than 4,800 miles on the odometer.

That is farther than a person can drive in any one direction in the continental United States, and would be roughly the equivalent of taking a road trip from Seattle to Miami, then turning north and driving to Boston.
What's truly remarkable about Gowan's use of a state-owned car: He is someone who has voted to take away food money from children because he believes it's inappropriate for government to hand out such luxuries but has, in his years in office, gobbled up all he can once he had a spot at the trough. Whether it's money for his campaigns, new furniture for his office or a plan to spend more than a million dollars remodeling the House of Representatives office (including a new gym!), Gowan has shown zero restraint in helping himself to government largesse.
Read Stephenson's entire piece here.

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