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OPINION

Arizona Legislature Finally About to Dismantle Corrupt Arizona Bar

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Those of you who regularly read my columns know I have a special focus on progressives misusing the left-leaning legal system to destroy conservatives. Republican officials, prosecutors — even I was targeted because I was briefly assigned to represent Sheriff Joe Arpaio for three months as a deputy county attorney. I have now been under attack for over six years, with no end in sight. The shady State Bar of Arizona will not let me practice law until I pay $101k, the cost of disciplining me and my superiors. Because of this, people tell me I am now the “poster child for reform of the Bar.”

But this isn’t about me, I’m doing fine as a journalist. I simply cannot tolerate the unethical activity, and since I understand the legal system, the extent of the wrongdoing, and can speak out without fear of having my law license yanked, I feel a moral obligation to expose it and stop it.

As I covered in my column last week, conservatives are finally starting to make inroads into dismantling these totalitarian state bars, which essentially operate as unions in the 23 states where they are mandatory. The Nebraska State Bar association has had most of its authority removed, and the State Bar of North Dakota is currently embroiled in a lawsuit by The Goldwater Institute challenging its authority.

HB 2221 passed in the Arizona House last week, and will likely come up for a vote in the Senate this week, where it has a good chance of passing. Inside sources say conservative Republican Governor Doug Ducey will sign it. The bill does two things: 1) subjects the Bar to public records laws, and 2) protects attorneys’ free speech rights by requiring that mandatory dues be used only for regulation.

There are now at least three websites opposing the Bar, Working for a Better Bar, AZ Bar Watch and Arizona Attorneys Against Corrupt Professional Regulation. The Goldwater Institute, The Institute for Justice, and other respected organizations are actively pushing the legislation.

The Bar is going all out with its lobbyists — a misuse of money, since the Supreme Court ruled in Keller v. State Bar of California that state bars cannot spend mandatory dues on politics — to persuade state legislators to vote against the legislation. Incredibly, they even got the Phoenix New Times, a sleazy alternative newspaper that used to make money from running ads for prostitution, to run a hit piece on me last week in an attempt to discredit the bill. Reporter Ray Stern, who writes relentlessly about me because he despises a fellow prosecutor who was targeted along with me who once got him arrested, actually admitted in his hit piece that the Bar’s hatchet man -er spokesman, Rick DeBruhl, pushed the story on him.

Strangely, Stern and the left-leaning media refer to this legislation as the “Andrew Thomas Revenge Bill,” an attempt to tie it to my former boss who was wrongly disbarred. Yet Thomas has had no involvement with the legislation.

This label in fact diminishes what the bill would accomplish. It is pioneering legislation that would, at long last, address in the same stroke liberal bias and corruption in the judiciary and bar associations that no one has been willing to confront. It is a reform that should sweep the nation. As a former congressmen said to me about it, “This reporter is forced to use you and Lisa as well as Thomas to discredit what really is needed reform. They shift and evade the truth. Classic drive-by yellow journalism.”

Mark Dixon, a former close friend of the Bar’s disciplinary judge, William O’Neil, has been tirelessly exposing O’Neil’s corruption over the last few years. With the exception of a couple of articles in The Arizona Republic, however, nothing has been done. As multiple attorneys have told me, this is because O’Neil “knows where the bones are buried” and the corruption likely goes all the way up to the Arizona Supreme Court.

O’Neil arranged a short sale of his mother-in-law’s house to eliminate $130,000 owed on it, then let her continue living in the house. An attorney who played a key role in the transaction was later arrested for killing a woman while drunk driving, and was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. Yet O’Neil permitted him to practice law almost the entire time he was in prison! The disciplinary panels O’Neil sits on consist of him and a couple others; a member of the public and an attorney. One of the panelists was a “close friend, neighbor and business associate” of O’Neil’s, which he never disclosed. That should have never been allowed. Dixon filed a long complaint with the judicial commission listing nine unethical actions by O’Neil, and they were all dismissed.

Multiple sources report that O’Neil was put in that position to destroy attorneys the Bar didn’t like, while going soft on attorneys it does like. There is a consistent pattern under his reign; attorneys who are suspended for just a few months are never to be allowed back into the practice of law. One attorney who was targeted because of her family ties to Republican politicians told me she suffered a heart attack from being put through the years of abuse.

Carmen Chenal, the alleged mistress of married former Attorney General Tom Horne, a liberal Republican, amassed a whole litany of misconduct as an attorney, but because she was connected through Horne, easily got her license reinstated by O’Neil. Horne, who is currently under investigation for allegedly turning the AG’s office into his campaign headquarters, was once caught by the FBI in a hit and run after leaving Chenal’s residence over lunch.

The Bar wastes lavish amounts of money. It has the second highest dues in the country of any mandatory bar, which increase every year. There are multiple diversity committees and extravagant annual conferences. The Bar spent $500,000 on a show trial against myself and my former two superiors, bringing in expensive out-of-state prosecutors and broadcasting the trial for two months. Members of the public who file complaints against attorneys favored by the Bar cannot get justice, their complaints are dismissed.

A mysterious hit piece appeared in the newspaper smearing the lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Anthony Kern, when he was attempting to get the bill passed last year. The Bar has shown it will stop at nothing to protect its power, prestige and money.

Fortunately, the conservative libertarian litigator Clint Bolick, co-founder of the Institute for Justice and until recently, head of the Goldwater Institute’s legal wing, was just appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court, which oversees the Bar. Between this important legislation and Bolick’s efforts on the inside, reform is finally coming and should pick up steam in other states next.

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