Lawsuit Filed To Halt Betsey Bayless’ Misuse of Maricopa County Taxpayer Funds
Moves Violate Constitution, Benefit Another County, and Jeopardize Support for Healthcare District
(MESA, Ariz.) An increasingly influential public interest group, Arizona Public Integrity Alliance (AZPIA), filed suit today in Maricopa County Superior Court alleging that Betsey Bayless has or is about to illegally give away $10 million of Maricopa County taxpayer funds to a private entity.
Bayless is the CEO of the Maricopa County Special Health Care District (District), which does business under the name Maricopa Integrated Health Systems (MIHS). AZPIA has had success impacting local politics and public policy and is now challenging Bayless’ misconduct.
The District infamously spiked Bayless’ salary last New Year’s Eve, from $375,000 to half a million dollars. The spike occurred despite her pending retirement, drawing the ire of media and taxpayers alike.
“The New Year’s Eve salary spike was outrageous, but not illegal. However, the subsequent activities by MIHS to flagrantly disregard its voter-approved mission and invest $10 million to displace an award-winning private sector provider of behavioral health services was the last straw,” said Pace Ellsworth with AZPIA.
In its bid proposal for the three-year contract to serve as the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) for Geographic Service Area 6 which includes Maricopa and parts of Pinal County, MIHS promised $10 million for its joint venture with Southwest Catholic Healthcare Network (d/b/a Mercy Care), to form and fund the entity called Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care (MMIC).
“Taxpayers authorized the District to provide certain services within Maricopa County. This isn’t one of them,” Ellsworth said. Furthermore, the District is actually proposing to use Maricopa County Taxpayer funds to serve parts of Pinal County.
“Obamacare is so distasteful because it crowds out the effectiveness and efficiency of the private sector for a government takeover. And that’s what is starting to happen now with MIHS. They must not be allowed to stray from their core mission and the trust taxpayers have placed in them,” Ellsworth said. He also called the use of Maricopa County taxpayer dollars to benefit Pinal County healthcare “outrageous.”
“Maricopa County voters would never have taxed themselves knowing of these plans and abuses. And they won’t pass further support for the District if they insist on proceeding,” Ellsworth said.
AZPIA attorney, Chris LaVoy, said this is a plain violation of Arizona law and a serious misuse of taxpayer funds.
“We are not only going to pursue this legal action, but we are considering recall actions against each of the voter-installed members of the District board who never told voters about this money grab. Between the ridiculous raise provided the CEO and now this, we think voters will revolt against the very people who empowered these abuses,” Ellsworth said.
The complaint from the “Arizona Public Integrity Alliance” alleges, among other things, that MIHS:
- Misused at least $10 million in Maricopa County taxpayer funds;
- Used levied secondary property tax money outside of the purpose of which voters approved and that the District is constitutionally required to abide by;
- That the District improperly agreed to provide a gift of $10 million in taxpayers funds to a for profit entity;
- That the District went astray of the District’s narrowly defined mission as approved by voters.
Western Free Press previously wrote about Ms. Bayless’ salary increase here.