Political feud, retirement benefits prompt early resignation by Maricopa treasurer
Looking to get an earlier start on his retirement and on a proposed recall effort against his rivals on the Board of Supervisors, Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora announced he would resign on New Year's Eve.
Flora's retirement is set to begin Jan. 1, when the new terms for elected county officials begins, and staying in office past Thursday would have required him to reschedule that start date, said deputy county treasurer Ron Bellus. Given the amount of work it would have taken to stay for another week or so, Bellus said Flora opted to end his term a little early.
"He'd have to undo all of that in order to stay around for another week, so it's just not worth it," Bellus said.
Politics also played a role in Flora's decision.
Many supporters of President Donald Trump have falsely alleged that President-elect Joe Biden defeated him through election fraud in Arizona and in other swing states that sealed the former vice president's victory in the Electoral College. Some have accused the supervisors of hiding evidence of fraud, including by going to court to resist a subpoena from the state Senate, and are demanding a full forensic audit of ballot tabulation machines and other election materials.
As a result, some Trump supporters are hoping to recall the supervisors.
Flora, who has clashed with the supervisors repeatedly through the years, wants to assist that effort, which he said would be inappropriate to do while serving as county treasurer. In addition, Flora said "the political environment at the County has become so toxic I have no desire to endure further abuse."
"I intend to participate in the recall of the Maricopa County board of supervisors which puts me in direct conflict with County government. For these and other reasons, I resign my office of Maricopa County Treasurer effective on the statutorily prescribed date of midnight, December 31st, 2020," Flora said in a letter to Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, which was reprinted in the Arizona Daily Independent, a rightwing blog.
A group called We the People AZ Alliance filed recall petitions with the county on Wednesday for supervisors Steve Gallardo, Bill Gates, Clint Hickman and Jack Sellers.
Flora lost the Republican primary in August to state Rep. John Allen. But because the Arizona Constitution prohibits legislators from serving in other government positions until their terms expire, even if they resign, Allen won't take office until Jan. 11.
Allen, of Phoenix, considers his term to be over on Jan. 4, when his first day of work as the new county treasurer would be. But he said the county believes his term doesn't end until Jan. 11, when the new legislative session begins and the new Legislature is seated, so he won't be sworn in as treasurer until that date.
Flora said the bond that protects him from legal liability as county treasurer expires at the end of the year, which he cited as another reason for his resignation.
Flora's chief deputy, Russell Pearce, retired effective Dec. 27, at the end of the last pay period, also for reasons pertaining to his retirement benefits, Bellus said.
The Board of Supervisors met Thursday morning to accept Flora's resignation and appoint former assistant county manager Shelby Scharbach as interim treasurer until Allen takes office.
This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.