Republican Legislative Leaders Request Katie Hobbs Give Leftover Inaugural Funds for General Use

State House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) and State Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) sent a request to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) Thursday, requesting she transfers the remainder of her inaugural fund to the state for general use.

“We appreciate your commitment to transparency in releasing the list of 120 donors and the amounts of each donation to the ‘Katie Hobbs Inaugural Fund,'” the legislators wrote. “We urge you to follow in your predecessors’ footsteps and transfer any monies left over in the Inaugural Fund to the Protocol Fund.”

Moreover, Kim Quintero, the spokeswoman for the State Senate Republican Caucus, told The Arizona Sun Times that the caucus might look into filing a complaint should Hobbs not make the transfer.

“We expect the Governor to take appropriate, lawful action by using the excess money for state business only. However, if that does not happen, we could look at filing a complaint with the Clean Elections Commission, or explore other avenues,” Quintero said via email.

As reported by The Sun Times, Hobbs came under fire when special interest groups gave an undisclosed amount of money to her inauguration fund for a celebratory ball. On her campaign website, Hobbs promised she would bring “transparency and accountability” to the governor’s office. Although, media outlets slammed her for appearing to backpedal on this promise on day one.

However, Hobbs eventually did reveal the complete list of donors, and the exact amount of money received, totaling roughly $1.5 million. Her biggest donor was Arizona Public Service, which gave $250,000 for the expressed purpose of funding Hobbs’s inauguration. However, the event only cost about $207,000, meaning Hobbs still has another $1.3 million in her funds, which could be used for political purposes.

In their letter, the legislators said Hobbs needs to be transparent about her money use. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 41-1105, the governor can accept and spend “public or private gifts, grants, donations or monies” in a Protocol Fund for the purpose of “promoting the interests of the state or to promote and encourage citizen public service to the state.” The legislators warned that it would be “inappropriate” for Hobbs to use any of the donations left in her inauguration fund to “influence an election.”

“We trust you will be mindful of these historical and practical considerations, and that you share our goal of prioritizing Arizonans’ interests above those of special interests,” Toma and Petersen wrote.

Should Hobbs transfer the donations to a Protocol Fund, Quintero explained that she could still spend it on whatever her prerogatives are.

“She can use the funds on anything relating to state business, from new carpet in her office, to gifts for dignitaries, etc. That would be her prerogative,” Quintero said via email.

However, one requirement of the Protocol Fund is transparency and accountability, as Hobbs promised. Under state law, an annual report of expenditures from a Protocol Fund must be presented to the legislature and Governor. The report is also a public record.

The Sun Times reached out to the governor’s office for a response but did not hear back before publishing time.

As reported by, there is nothing in state law that would force Hobbs to transfer the funds.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ben Toma” by Ben Toma. Photo “Warren Petersen” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Governor Katie Hobbs. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Hoozdoh. CC BY-SA 3.0.




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