New Democratic Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes issued a press release last month criticizing her predecessor, Republican Mark Brnovich, for disagreeing with two of his employees on whether there was election fraud in the 2020 midterm election. As a result of her press release, 17 people filed bar complaints against him, including Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs. Jennifer Wright, who served as the Arizona Attorney General Office’s (AGO) Election Integrity Unit (EIU) civil attorney, denounced Mayes for the move and asked the Arizona Supreme Court to investigate whether Mayes violated ethics rules by releasing attorney-client privileged work to the public.
In a March 13 letter addressed to Justice Bill Montgomery as the chair of the Arizona Supreme Court’s Task Force on Ethics Rules Governing the State Attorney General, County Attorneys, and Other Public Lawyers, Wright referenced Mayes’ position on the task force and said, “I encourage the Task Force to inquire as to what Rule of Professional Conduct Ms. Mayes relied upon to justify waiving her predecessor’s attorney-client privilege and publicly releasing privileged materials.”
She added, “Ms. Mayes’ unprecedented and dubious release of a subset of cherry-picked privileged materials sets a dangerous precedent that threatens all public officials’ attorney-client relationships. A public official should not abuse his or her office to unilaterally waive a predecessor’s privilege to wage a political attack or attempt to damage the professional reputation of a government lawyer.”
She tweeted that weaponizing the state bar has become such a problem that a new state law was implemented last year requiring the state bar to pay attorney fees and other costs if the organization seeks to discipline a lawyer and loses.
Read the rest of the article at The Arizona Sun Times