Allegations Made to AZ Senate Committee Claiming Gov. Katie Hobbs and Other Officials Took Bribes From Sinaloa Drug Cartel

A number of high profile Arizona politicians and officials have been accused of receiving bribes from the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, but at the top of the list is new Governor Katie Hobbs.

The California-based Harris/Thaler Law Corporation made claims that alleged Hobbs, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Runbeck Election Services, and a disturbing number of mayors, judges, city council members, and county supervisors of receiving bribes from the notorious drug cartel.

This discovery was announced during a recent hearing in front of the Senate Elections and Municipal Oversight & Elections Joint Committee. The presentation was conducted by principle investigator Jacqueline Breger from Harris/Thaler, who went into detail as to how what started as an investigation into allegations of money-laundering turned into this potential major scandal.

RELATED: Arizona Troopers Seize Enough Fentanyl To Kill Nearly 800,000 People

The Investigation

According to Breger, “In 2006, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa investigated the laundering of drug cartel monies through a complex series of single-family home purchases in those states.

“By 2009, numerous real estate agents, escrow companies and title insurers had been indicted, charged and convicted of racketeering.” She continued, “In 2014, our office was asked to review the case files and to determine whether monies from the sales of the properties had filtered to property purchases in Arizona, specifically in Maricopa and Pima County.”

The Sinaloa Cartel, which is run by the infamous Joaquín  “El Chapo”Archivaldo Guzmán Loera who is serving a life sentence in a supermax prison in Colorado, is considered to be the most powerful and deadly drug cartel in the world.

Investigators connected their discoveries back to Arizona when they found out that it was several real estate agents from Iowa who “had set up a laundering system in Arizona and thereafter had transferred the proceeds of sales to Panamanian Corporations.”

Bregers pointed out “In 2018, Mr. Thaler discovered, incidental to another matter, a series of trust deeds evidencing that cash laundering through single family residences in Arizona was pervasive and ongoing. With that, a new investigation began with the focus being on money laundering and related racketeering activities in Maricopa County and several other Arizona counties.”

It was also noted that Harris/Thaler also currently represents several parties “directly damaged by the racketeering activities” discovered.

In the lengthy report Breger provided, Arizona residents Dawna Rae Chavez and her daughter Brittany Rae Chavez were accused of being the “principal preparers of the documents necessary to effect the racketeering enterprises.”

According to Bregers, “To date, more than 10,000 falsified documents have been recorded with the Maricopa County Recorder. We estimate that more than 35,000 warranty deeds/trust deeds evidencing fraudulent transactions exist in the database. 11. The number of falsified notarizations exceeds 15,000.  12. Dawna and Brittany’s participation in racketeering activities also includes facilitation of bribes to public officials, tax evasion, payroll theft, bankruptcy fraud, insurance fraud, and extortion.”

The money from these activities allegedly went directly to a number of politicians and election officials going back to 2004.

“Since 2004, elections within Pima County and Maricopa County have been manipulated through infiltration of the county databases resulting from bribes paid to executives at election service providers including, but not limited to, principals of Runbeck Election Services,” Bregers said. “In addition to impacting local elections, bribes and infiltration were used to affect the outcome of the races during the November 3, 2020 election, including the outcome of the race for Maricopa County Recorder, and the outcome of the November 8, 2022 election (race for Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General).”

RELATED: Cammack Blasts Texas Democrat Who Claimed Operation Lone Star Is ‘Waste Of Money’

Into the Rabbit Hole

According to Breger’s report, the list of those who allegedly accepted cartel bribes include but are not limited to “multiple state office holders (State House/State Senate), local office holders, county supervisors, judges of the Maricopa County Superior Court, judges of several city courts (including two presiding judges), judge’s assistants, prosecutors within certain cities within Maricopa County, prosecutors for Maricopa County, peripheral legal specialists including attorneys, ‘approved’ mental healthcare providers (court appointed advisors) and related specialists.”

She added that in the Superior Courts for Maricopa County, Pinal County and Pima County, “at least 25 percent of the active judges have accepted bribes in exchange for protecting the racketeering activities.”

Towards the later end of the report, a list of the officials who allegedly falsified deeds connected to the money laundering operations include Gov. Hobbs, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Sen. Krysten Sinema, Rep. Ruben Gallego, Mayor  John Giles of Mesa, Arizona Speaker of the House Ben Toma, and many others.

Bregers noted that “This list comprises individuals where investigation has been completed. Additional officials including judges and election officials for Maricopa County and spouses are currently implicated by the evidence obtained to date.”

Members of the committee asked Breger whether or not she had shared the information in the report outside of the committee. She responded that copies of the report were provided to previous Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in May of 2022, and that Ducey provided the information to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

RELATED: Law Enforcement Pushes Back Against Democrats’ Claims About Fentanyl And Southern Border

Is the Evidence Credible?

Members of the committee asked Breger whether or not she had shared the information in the report outside of the committee. She responded that copies of the report were provided to previous Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in May of 2022, and that Ducey provided the information to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Many outlets and officials have spoken out against the allegations since the hearting.

Lead Stories reported that upon looking into the reports, that “there’s no reliable evidence that’s true” and that Breger “did not provide credible proof to back up her explosive claims.”

In the Lead Stories report, they point that Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma described the allegations against the individuals made as “unsubstantiated and defamatory.”

Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who is the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Elections, also stated that this presentation before lawmakers was perhaps inappropriate.

“To our knowledge,” Rogers stated later, “none of the people named had charges filed, have prosecutions pending, nor had any convictions made against them.”

It should also be mentioned that John Thaler of Harris/Thaler was at one point married to Brittany Rae Chavez, who was accused of racketeering. Thaler said that during his marriage, he had no knowledge of her alleged activities. Additionally, Breger did not disclaim that her and Thaler are romantically involved.

Lead Stories reached out later to Breger requesting further details about the supporting evidence in the report, as well as the backlash to the allegations.

“She said she had in excess of 120,000 documents and sent a link to the report she provided to members of the elections committees,” the article stated. “That report listed 47 allegations and included deeds of trust allegedly tied to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs. Nothing in the report proved Breger’s claims that lawmakers, judges and public officials in Arizona are on the take.”

Breger acknowledged in further correspondence with the outlet the investigation’s limitations, but stands by the report, saying:

“We encourage the Senate and the Legislature to embark on their own investigation of our discovery and we are willing to work with them when they do. We fully support the need for a full-scale investigation by an enforcement agency. To date, we have been limited in our authority to pursue such, as was also stated in my report. However, there is no denying the evidence we have and there is no denying the fact that we have enough evidence to warrant such an investigation.”

Time will tell the truth regarding the validity of the evidence and claims, since this wouldn’t be the first time the media and the government has attempted to paint a potential theory as a conspiracy due to a political agenda; the Wuhan lab leak theory being backed up recently by the FBI and the Department of Energy being only a recent example since that claim was virtually shut down in 2020, only to have now been confirmed to be most likely true.

RELATED: Half Of Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account Students Left Public Schools, Latest Data Show

Gov. Hobbs Responds

Gov. Hobbs responded to the allegations on Tuesday during a press conference, stating that the allegations made against her and others were false.

“It makes the legislature, quite honestly, a laughing stock and Arizona by extension,” she said, “and I hope folks are held accountable for this.”

Hobbs is considering taking additional action in response to the claims, but also has stated that there are other pressing issues to focus on such as the economy and challenges with water conservation.

“These are all really critical issues that should be having full day legislative hearings on and we’re not, instead we’re having these circus shows,” said Hobbs.

Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephan Richer, who was named in the report, has stated that he will be considering legal action.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article’s headline and content was updated on 3/1/2023 to include additional information regarding the claims and Governor Hobbs’ response in order to provide a more accurate and current account. See an error? Please email us at: .

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #3 on Feedspot’s “100 Best Political Blogs and Websites.”