June has been off to a brutal start for Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. She kicked off the month by breaking her own hiring freeze to bring in a new press secretary. Then, a few days later, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that Hobbs violated the law when she sidestepped the Senate’s confirmation process for agency directors. And to top it all off, an eye-opening report was released uncovering an alleged pay-to-play scheme between Hobbs and an Arizona group home.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, this is the same Katie Hobbs who broke the law to take credit for the Republican tax rebate. And it’s the same Katie Hobbs who required the nonprofit behind her $30 million medical debt relief program to give her credit. But this latest scandal shows that Hobbs’ corruption has reached a new level.

According to the report, Sunshine Residential Homes has donated approximately $400,000 toward the Arizona Democratic Party, Hobbs’ gubernatorial campaign, and her inaugural fund. And what did the group home receive in return? A nearly 60 percent rate increase! And this was at a time when the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) cut loose 16 providers, and no other standard group home provider received a rate increase.

That’s convenient.

Sunshine Residential Homes could potentially receive millions of dollars more at the taxpayers’ expense from their investment (sorry…donation). And that must have their CEO—who also happened to serve on Hobbs’ inaugural committee—excited.

Hmmm…Hobbs’ inauguration fund. Do you remember that?

This entire saga began when Hobbs set up a shady inaugural slush fund to provide donors with a conduit to buy political favor from her administration. While setting up and managing the fund, Hobbs illegally used public resources—like the state’s website—to solicit money for her inauguration. And she also tried to stop the disclosure of the names of those who donated to her inaugural fund.

But after immense political pressure and public records requests filed by groups like the Arizona Freedom Foundation (who operates AZ Free News), Hobbs finally released the names of the donors. And lo and behold, guess which group was among those listed? Sunshine Residential Homes Inc., which at the time made a donation of $100,000. But this is just one part of the story.

After raising huge sums of money for her inauguration, Hobbs and her administration only spent a small fraction of it for that purpose. At the time, it was reported that Hobbs brought in $1.5 million from approximately 120 donors for an inaugural event that cost less than $210,000.

So, what happened to the rest of the money? It’s clear that Hobbs and the Democrats plan to spend it on legislative races this November all while using the fund as nothing more than a quid pro quo factory on the Ninth Floor.

This must be stopped, and a criminal investigation into this matter is absolutely necessary. So far, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes and Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell have announced that they will investigate. But Mayes should be nowhere near this investigation. She has proven time and time again that she will do whatever it takes to protect Hobbs and the Democratic party from any real accountability—which is probably why she’s pushing so hard for Mitchell to stand down. And it’s also probably why Hobbs refuses to answer questions about whether she would comply with both a Mayes and Mitchell investigation.

Hobbs knows she’s in trouble, and she’s big mad that this scandal has been exposed. But her good buddy Mayes can’t be allowed to bail her out this time.

Rachel Mitchell should not only be the one to conduct the investigation, she should step in immediately to freeze the assets.

Hobbs’ inaugural slush fund is still in existence and sitting on a mountain of cash. She’s planning on spending contributions from this fund—which is under criminal investigation—on political campaigns in the coming months. This can’t be allowed.

From its inception to today, Hobbs’ inaugural fund has been a monument to corruption and abuse. And while the funds should probably just be refunded to the initial donors, that’s impossible now that it’s all under criminal probe.

It’s time for Rachel Mitchell to freeze these funds pending the outcome of the investigation. Giving taxpayer dollars to political donors is a severe misuse of public funds. And it should not be taken lightly. Mitchell should stop donors from cashing in on the Hobbs gravy train and give Arizona taxpayers the accountability they deserve from their government leaders.

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