Attorney general investigating whether Tempe used taxpayer money to spy on citizens
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The attorney general is investigating what was going on behind the scenes at Tempe City Hall as the mayor and others tried to convince voters to approve a massive sports and entertainment complex on Tempe Town Lake.
Tempe voters rejected the proposal by a wide margin back in May. Now, the attorney general is looking into whether the city used taxpayer money to spy on its citizens during the process. But six months before the election, Tempe inked a deal with a political supporter and campaign contributor to Mayor Corey Woods.
The 5-page contract signed by the former Tempe city manager paid a political consultant $10,000 a month in part to watch opponents of the proposed hockey arena. Among those tasks, the city wanted the consultant to identify social media pages and groups, analyze individuals, and determine where they lived.
Mayor Woods declined an on-camera interview and, through a spokesperson, says he cannot comment on a pending investigation. The city issued a statement acknowledging the investigation, saying, “We intend to cooperate fully with Attorney General Kris Mayes, and we look forward to the full truth coming out.”
“Isn’t that the craziest thing you can imagine,” said Gayle Shanks, a longtime Tempe business owner who helped lead the opposition against the proposed Coyotes arena. “I’m really appalled ... in fact, they did hire somebody,” Shanks said that she’s been a past supporter of some city council members. She’s now disappointed and says she feels like she’s living in a surveillance state.
The contract signed to keep track of opponents was for six months, but it was canceled after three months. In total, the city spent about $30,000 to surveil its own residents.
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