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N4T Investigators: Tax dollars involved in massive records reque - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Tax dollars involved in massive records requests

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Supervisor Ally Miller Supervisor Ally Miller

Tucson - Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller stresses being responsible with taxpayers dollars. So we wanted to find out how the northwest side  Republican explains the substantial use of taxpayers time and money that resulted from the enormous public records requests she's made to the county administration, seeking information about colleagues, county officials and the news media. 

We caught up with Supervisor Miller on her way to Tuesday's Board meeting. We told her we are reporting an update on what's come out of her records requests. She said, "Nothing's really happened on that. I mean, that happened a year ago, so there's nothing really new."

Actually, there is plenty that's new.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators filed our own public records request, to find out how much taxpayers time and money were involved to fulfill Miller's requests. The numbers are staggering.  

Records show Miller filed 10 requests with the county administration last year and two this year. By law, they had to be fulfilled.  Among them: She sought every email sent to and from former Supervisor Ray Carroll over a period of time, to and from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and his staff, and members of the news media. It was an apparent effort to find out if county officials conspired with reporters to expose a controversy in Miller's office. It involved her former communications staffer who started a fake news web site. Records show that in total, Miller's requests resulted in 163,461 pages. Most were emails.

Every page had to be read, reviewed, and, if necessary, redacted by five employees in the Clerk of the Board's office. If each page took county workers three minutes to review, that means that spent 8173 hours on them. On taxpayers time and dime. The salaries of the employees who reviewed the documents total at least $250,000.  We read hundreds of pages. They contain mostly mundane, inside stuff about board meetings and agendas. 

Sharon Bronson, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, said of Miller's requests, "It's not to the benefit of the taxpayers, and just think how many potholes we could have filled for that amount of money."

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said this is the first time in his 24 years on the job that a supervisor has made a public records request. "I think it was more political motivation, politically motivated to either harm another supervisor or discredit the county," Huckelberry said. "And that's very unfortunate." Regarding Miller's emphasis on fiscal responsibility, Huckelberry said, "I think it's a classic case of, 'Do as I say, not as I do.'"

The clerk's staff also worked 127 hours of overtime on the requests and was paid another $2500 for that. 

Meanwhile, several sources told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is still investigating Miller for allegedly using her private email to conduct public business, which is against the law. Miller insists she didn't do that.  But we obtained emails Miller apparently sent from her personal account to her staff that did discuss county business.

Miller made another massive records request after she was criticized for a comment she made on Facebook about white pride, hours after the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. in August. Miller requested any and all verbal and written communications from anyone in the public or county employees regarding her Facebook post.

Bronson said, "We may disagree on policy. We need to do it in a way that is civil and respectful." 

We asked Huckelberry what is the end result of all of Supervisor Miller's requests, other than the enormous amount of time county employees had to work on them, and the money involved. He said, "At this point, nothing."

Since Tuesday's board meeting, we asked Supervisor Miller twice to do an interview for this report. She did not respond.

Just this past Monday, she made another records request, seeking emails, telephone logs and any other documents to or from all four other supervisors, or any member of their staffs, to or from Huckelberry, and to or from any member of the county administration staff, dated from Dec.1-15, which contain certain keywords related to road repairs. Employees in the board clerk's office, being  are still spending time working on that request.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

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