We have state everythings. The AZ state bird is the Cactus Wren. The state mammal is the Ringtail Cat. State butterfly: Two-tailed Swallowtail. State fish: Apache Trout. State reptile: Arizona Ridgednosed Rattlesnake. State amphibian: Arizona Tree Frog.
But, as far as I can determine from my Google searches, we do not have an Arizona State Invertebrate. So here is my nomination: the Arizona State Legislative Leech.
When you offer up a nomination for a state something you should provide a specimen. No problem. My specimen is AZ State Senator (LD17) Steve Yarbrough.
Yarbrough has been involved with ACSTO [Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization] for more than a decade, apparently since its inception, as an organizational officer and executive director.
No matter what his official title (he’s been ACSTO’s vice president, secretary, or treasurer, or various combinations of those), his base compensation has remained in the range of $96K – $106K per year. He also receives "other compensation" that has varied from ~$5K to ~$45K.
What has grown significantly as time has gone on is ACSTO’s "processing" costs.
From 2001 to 2004, the organization did not list any processing expenses on its annual Form 990 filings with the IRS..
In 2005, Yarbrough became the organization’s Executive Director. Processing expenses were listed as $24,440.
In late 2005, he, his wife, their business partner, and his wife formed the company HY Processing.
In 2006, ACSTO reported paying HY $363,320 for processing donations and scholarships.
In case you think I’m being selective, reports for subsequent years show payments of $426,895, $482,945, $406,875, $392,110, $426,655, $560,710, and figure not disclosed, all to HY.
That’s over $3 million paid to his own company that is easily documented. If the undisclosed figure is even just an average of the previous six years, that would put the total near $3.5 million.
And that doesn’t even include the organization’s rent payments to its landlord.
Who is, you guessed it, Steve Yarbrough.
And why does this continue? Laurie Roberts explains.
No. 1 the Legislature writes the laws and their attorneys have determined that there is no conflict here because Yarbrough is not the only guy who benefits from the tax-credit boondoggle. Apparently, since there are at least nine other people who can line their pockets at taxpayer expense, it's A-OK for the legislator who sponsors bills that expand the program to dig in.
No. 2. It doesn't hurt that Yarbrough is chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and not likely to bring a complaint against himself. His fellow Republican legislators could make a stink about this if they wanted to. They just don't want to. (Democrats have but nobody listens to them at the Capitol.)
And No. 3. It's because of us. We allow stuff like this to happen every time we re-elect the same old self-interested suspects to (supposedly) represent our interests.
And if they're representing their own interests first? Well, shame on us for not doing something about it.
Yarbrough's opponents in his Chandler district have brought up Yarbrough's activities in previous elections. He's been re-elected every time.
... what sort of place might this be, I wonder, if voters also paid attention to stuff like this? To self dealing and a systematic starvation of the public schools.
This, in a state where people say that public education is important.
And then vote for the same old crew.
By the way: the state motto is: "Ditat Deus" which means "God Enriches." Might want to change that. God has nothing to do with the flow of cash to Yarbrough. Republican voters and their elected legislators do that.