Local News

The Financial Disclosure Fallout

April 21, 2011

By Michael Anthony Scerbo

The Tusayan Town Council is scrambling to avoid its own Fiesta Bowl style scandal after word leaked out that two of the members of the Council pocketed hefty win bonuses from the Stilo backed “United for Tusayan” following last year’s incorporation vote. On April 20, the Council passed a set of rules for financial disclosure hoping this will keep them out of hot water.

In March of last year Council Member Al Montoya collected $8,500 and John Reuter received a $2,000 “Win Bonus.” United for Tusayan, which is bankrolled by Stilo, cut the checks. The two were apparently rewarded for their work to convince folks to vote yes on incorporation.

Reuter and Montoya were later elected to the Town Council, after the two of them received generous campaign contributions from Stilo and their allies.

While the campaign contributions were properly noted, the ‘Win Bonuses” remained a mystery until “United for Tusayan” amended their paperwork this year on what they spent to convince the town to incorporate. The final tab was more than $640,000. The paperwork also revealed the Montoya and Reuter bonuses. Here’s a link to United for Tusayan’s spending spree. It lists lots of folks who received bonuses.

These bonuses got the Watchdog curious about Montoya’s and Reuter’s Financial Disclosure Statements. By law all Arizona elected officials are supposed to fill these out to disclose debts and sources of income. When Montoya and Reuter filled out their reports last year, they didn’t include the win bonuses. After we filed a public records request, Montoya filed a NEW financial disclosure statement and this time he admits to getting the big check. Click here to get a look at Montoya’s reports and here to look at Reuter’s.

Tusayan’s Town attorney, while not specifically mentioning the win bonuses, says the rules on filling out these financial disclosure statements were never formally adopted by the Town. So to get right with the law the Town Council formally adopted a set of rules for financial disclosure during its April 20th meeting.

Mayor Greg Bryan said, “Prior to this, the Town of Tusayan had no code or requirement to have financial disclosures to comply with it. The information that was given to us prior to this was provided by the League and they made some errors.”

We’re assuming the Mayor is talking about the Arizona League of Cities and Towns which routinely helps newly incorporated communities.

The resolution was approved without prior public scrutiny. There was no copy available before it was passed. Aaron Hall, an attorney for Red feather Lodge said, “I think the community would like to take a look at it at some point. I do think it is an important matter for the Council to take up and adopt.” A copy was made available DURING the council meeting. Here is the link.

For video highlights of the council discussion on this item click here.

Now that these win bonuses are out in the open, is this a case of no harm no foul? That’s not exactly true if you voted in the last council election. When people cast their votes for Montoya and Reuter, they did not know that the Stilo backed United for Tusayan gave them hefty payments.

Now the big question is will Montoya and Reuter declare a conflict when Stilo presents its land use plan to the Town Council? That’s the plan that stands to make Stilo a bundle if the residential zoning is nuked from the Camper Village location to make way for a resort and high-end retail.