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Grant Woods denies accusation of bias from Paul Petersen’s lawyer

Grant Woods (Gallagher & Kennedy Photo)

PHOENIX — Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods denied an accusation Wednesday that he is too biased to oversee the investigation into a Maricopa County official under indictment for human smuggling.

Assessor Paul Petersen’s lawyer Kory Langhofer said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM that Woods commenting “great work” on a tweet about the indictment shows he is unfit to supervise county attorney’s investigation, which was announced Tuesday.

Langhofer also pointed out that Woods liked a tweet in which someone said Petersen should “learn to enjoy prison.”

But Woods told KTAR News’ Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show he stands by his Twitter activity.

“What Petersen’s charged with is really, really, very, very disturbing,” Woods said. “… I stand by law enforcement on a job well done in bringing this to light.”

Langhofer said Woods deleted the tweet about Petersen’s indictment, but it was visible on Woods’ page Wednesday.

Woods said because the investigation is focusing on Petersen’s activity as county assessor, his opinion on the criminal case doesn’t disqualify him.

“Maybe he’ll go to court and be acquitted in all three jurisdictions, and if he wins three jury trials, then good for him,” Woods said.

“What we’re concerned about now is none of that. It’s what’s going on at the assessor’s office, what was going on at the assessor’s office, and the (Board of Supervisors) wants to know, should we allow him to continue on?”

The board lacks the power to permanently remove Petersen from his office, which determines the value of properties for tax purposes in Phoenix and its suburbs.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced the previous day that the law firm of Mitchell Stein Carey Chapman will conduct the investigation, and Cosmich Simmons & Brown PLLC will review documents.

Woods will be expected to provide regular updates to Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel throughout the investigation.

He served as the state’s attorney general from 1991 to 1999 and also worked as chief of staff to Sen. John McCain.

On Oct. 8, Petersen was arrested on 62 charges in three states for allegedly recruiting, transporting and offering to pay dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to adopt out their babies in the United States.

Despite calls from high-ranking state and county officials, Petersen has refused to resign.

On Oct. 28, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors suspended him without pay for 120 days, the maximum allowable under state law. He is appealing the suspension and will have a hearing Dec. 11.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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