By JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — Attorney General Mark Brnovich has reached an agreement with the Arizona State Bar to resolve complaints alleging he violated ethics rules while representing Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the council Arizona regents.
Brnovich and several attorneys working for him have reached a “diversion agreement,” Hobbs and Board of Regents Chair Lyndel Manson said Friday. advice or any other action negotiated between the lawyers and the bar.
The terms of the deal are confidential, and Brnovich’s spokeswoman, Katie Conner, did not respond to calls and emails asking for details.
A letter from a bar attorney advising Hobbs of the agreement said it ‘reflects the parties’ intention to seek clarity in ethical rules’ but did not say whether Brnovich or his aides will have to comply. on other terms.
Brnovich, a Republican candidate in the crowded GOP primary for the U.S. Senate, said he was vindicated. He said in a press release that he had agreed to work with the Supreme Court to clarify ethical rules for government lawyers.
Brnovich described the complaints as politically motivated, pointing to his dual role as a politician and state attorney. He said they threatened the reputations and careers of lawyers working for him.
“This is a victory for the rule of law and a rebuke to anyone who tries to weaponize the lawyer regulatory system for their own political ends,” Brnovich said in a statement.
Under state law, the attorney general provides legal advice to state agencies and elected officials and represents them in court.
In a complaint filed a month before the 2020 election, Hobbs, a Democrat, said Brnovich’s office made legal arguments in election cases against her instructions. She said he sometimes walks out of business at the 11th hour, causing him to scramble to hire outside attorneys. In one instance, she said he represented her in trial court proceedings, then walked away from the case, intervened and took a position different from hers on appeal.
“The State Bar helps prevent these ethical failings from happening again and that is justice,” Hobbs said in a statement.
Former board chairman Larry Penley filed a separate lawsuit alleging Brnovich violated ethics rules by suing the board, who is his client, and making derogatory comments in public about the board and university administrators.
One lawsuit challenges the setting of college tuition fees and another seeks to block a development deal for a hotel and conference center being built at Arizona State University.
“Contrary to the attorney general’s assertion, the bar’s decision is not a vindication of the attorney general’s conduct,” Manson, the current chairman of the Board of Regents, said in a statement.
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