Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Public Enemy Number One

Public Enemy Number One
Continued from page 1
Published: March 22, 2007
Nor does it help that, in the private sector, Hershberger is getting paid by a company with strong ties to CPS. Before he was elected to the House, Hershberger was a full-time employee at a Tucson social service agency called Open Inn. Tax records show that Open Inn gets the bulk of its funding — more than $3 million annually — from government contracts. As Hershberger acknowledges, some of those contracts are with CPS's parent agency
It's not clear just how much he's being paid. The personal disclosure form that Hershberger has on file with the secretary of state shows only that the total is over $1,000. He claims he hasn't billed Open Inn in months and that the company's ties don't factor into how he feels about CPS. (And what he's doing is not a legal conflict of interest, according to Arizona's rather lax laws regarding legislators.)
Hershberger insists that his letter wasn't intended to silence a critic.
"I was just curious," he says. "My understanding is if she's representing someone other than just herself, paid or unpaid, she has to register. That's to protect the public and let them know who's representing who. . . . Now it's up to them. If she didn't do anything wrong, okay, I'm done with it."
Richard Wexler, for one, doesn't buy it. If Hershberger was just "curious," he asks, why not just talk to Scoins and ask about her funding?
"That's what he would do if he was curious," Wexler says. "But if he wanted to bully her, he'd send a letter to the secretary of state — and then he'd forward it to the county attorney."