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Cap Times: Trump spokeswoman was still paid by Arizona Leg

The former top spokeswoman for the Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives was paid by state taxpayers for two months last year, even as she never showed up for work here. Instead, Stephanie Grisham, now a White House staffer, worked on Donald Trump's "thank you" tour after the election, the Arizona Capitol Times reported Tuesday.

Grisham, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona before working for state Attorney General Tom Horne and then the GOP in the Legislature, was recently named the director of communications for first lady Melania Trump.

Grisham began working for the Donald Trump campaign in May 2016, after the Legislature adjourned.

Since Trump's election victory in November, Grisham first worked with the incoming president's transition team, and then as a deputy press secretary. She was named a "special assistant to the president" and communications director for the first lady on Monday.

Tuesday, Cap Times reporter Hank Stephenson reported that Grisham was paid about $19,000 by Arizona taxpayers for the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, "although she rarely set foot in the state, never showed up for work at the House, and did little to nothing to earn the money, records show."

More from the Capitol Times lengthy report, "Tradition dictates no show, no problem in House transition":

Grisham initially took a long-term, unpaid leave from the House to work on Trump’s campaign, but lame-duck House Speaker David Gowan put her back on the public payroll for his remaining eight weeks in office, House payroll records show.

Grisham’s no-show is an extreme example of a common practice in the House in which the highest echelon of Republican political staffers are allowed to run out the clock on a departing speaker’s term in office.

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They are often not even required to show up for the final few weeks of taxpayer-funded employment as the incoming speaker begins to assemble his team of top political staff.

The speaker is in charge of personnel decisions and has full discretion over the chamber’s nearly $14 million budget. And political patronage can run rampant.

Democratic, non-partisan and lower-level staffers don’t have the same leeway, and during transition periods, they are required to show up at the office, regardless of who is speaker.

Top political staffers are often awarded an “unofficial severance” of two months when they simply don’t have to show up in the office, rarely have to do any work, but are still paid for 40-hour workweeks.

Grisham’s two-month absence stands out, even at the House.

Top staffers typically don’t return from long-term unpaid leave just for those lame-duck transition months, as Grisham did. And most don’t live outside the state and hold another political job while they’re on the public payroll.

According the Stephenson's report, Grisham didn’t return calls, texts or emails for comments. The White House didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

A public records request to the House shows that Grisham did little to nothing toward the end of her tenure at the House.

She didn’t send a single email from her previously active House email account in those two months. She received the occasional mass email, but according to these records she had no professional interaction with coworkers. ...

In fact, for most of that period, Grisham didn’t even have an office at the House, as it had been taken over by another staffer.

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While Grisham could not be reached, her lawyer, Christopher Rapp, threatened the Capitol Times with a lawsuit, saying the publication of false and defamatory statements regarding his client will “leave (Grisham) no alternative but to evaluate her legal rights to include legal proceedings against you asserting all available causes of action and seeking compensatory and punitive damages.”

Rapp demanded that any documents, including text messages, emails, audio recordings, and drafts be preserved “in anticipation of a potential dispute.”

Rapp said the failure to do so could result in court sanctions that could include “monetary sanctions.” Rapp also said his letter to the Capitol Times is an “off the record legal communication intended solely for the recipient and your counsel and not to be used for editorial purposes.”


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Trump and Grisham in May 2016.