Lawyers representing the private racetrack Apex have filed a complaint against a political action committee that took Apex to court.
The complaint, filed with the City of Maricopa by the lawfirm of Coppersmith-Brockleman, targets the group that took both the city and Apex to court in recent months regarding the company’s planned racetrack in Maricopa.
In the complaint, attorneys representing Apex argue the group known as Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, acting as a political action committee, broke Arizona state election law when officers failed to file campaign finance reports.
By not filing a campaign finance report in both July and October of 2017, the complaint says, MCPT violated A.R.S. 16-927 and 16-927 in not disclosing who paid for the “disbursement” of funds used to pay for “petition circulation and litigation that should have been captured on such reports.”
Second, the complaint says, the committee further violated state law A.R.S. 16-906(B)(1)(b) when it failed to identify in its name its “sponsor’s name or commonly known nickname.”
“As a consequence, the Committee never registered and properly formed as a committee, and has been improperly operating in the city,” the complaint says.
According to the complaint, “the Committee is clearly the brain child and outsourced operation of Mr. Erickson.”
During a hearing regarding another lawsuit filed against the city and Apex by Maricopa resident Bonita Burks, lawyers for Burks denied allegations claiming that Dan Erickson and his company – Danrick Builders – are behind the Burks lawsuit.
However, in a Sept. 26 letter to the Maricopa city attorney, Burks’ lead counsel, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods said both Burks and Erickson wish to settle the matter.
“This letter is to confirm that the parties currently opposing the Apex development are, and have been, willing to discuss settling this matter in an amicable way,” Woods wrote. “I have spoken to Ms. Burks and with Daniel Erickson to get his feedback on an approach to put this controversy to rest.”
Erickson also mentioned Burks in an Oct. 10 letter to Pinal Central, claiming it was never Burks’ intention to “prevent Apex from opening; they merely wanted more due diligence done and proper procedures followed in processing the conditional use permit.”
Because of this connection, Apex attorneys believe they have evidence of collusion between Erickson and the two opposition parties that filed separate suits against the city and Apex.
“Indeed, it is now clear that the Committee’s activities were but one piece of a comprehensive strategy employed by Danrick and its principal, Mr. Erickson,” the complaint states.
Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson originally issued a judgment in favor of MCPT Aug. 9. However, both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court later sided with the city and Apex, tossing out the lower court’s ruling.
In Burks’ case, a Sept. 13 judgment by Olson ruled her suit lacked “standing.”
Burks filed an appeal Nov. 1 and is awaiting judgement.
“As with its failure to file timely campaign finance reports,” the Apex complaint says, “the effect of the Committee’s noncompliance with governing campaign finance laws serves only to conceal from the people of the City the identity of those who have meddled in its administrative affairs at great expense.”