PHOENIX — One of the Democratic candidates for Arizona secretary of state, Reginald Bolding, is charged with influence peddling, according to a letter and documents sent to the Arizona attorney general’s office.
Bolding, who has been a state representative since 2014, founded a political consulting firm called Blue Wave Victory. Arizona Corporation Commission nominee Kiana Sears hired Bolding in 2018.
The letter said Sears had paid Bolding’s company $18,500 and included a copy of the alleged contract.
Among the agreed-upon services was “partnership development,” which was described as connecting with federal, state, local and nonprofit leaders. Bolding’s name is at the bottom of the contract.
According to the letter, the contract “constitutes a bribe or an attempt to benefit from influence peddling.” Scott Meyer, a Fontes supporter and environmental activist, wrote the letter, calling Bolding’s alleged actions “appalling” and citing a criminal political corruption law, ARS 13-2602.
Meyer asks the Attorney General’s office for an investigative inquiry.
Bolding released the following statement in response to ABC15’s investigation into the influence peddling charges:
I am disappointed that Mr. Fontes put his political aspirations ahead of saving taxpayers’ money with baseless claims. I have always complied with all laws and regulations. While Mr. Fontes resorts to dirty tricks to prop up his failing campaign, I campaign positively and build coalitions to save our democracy from insurgents.
Jevin Hodge, who worked with Bolding at Blue Wave Victory, is also named in the influence peddling complaint.
Meyer’s letter claimed that the two men, “in their capacity as ‘public servants’, were essentially selling their positions as a means of gaining access to others in exchange for monetary gain”.
In 2018, Hodge was a volunteer vice president for the Arizona Democratic Party. Hodge is currently the Democratic candidate for Arizona’s 1st congressional district.
“Jevin, as a private citizen and someone who cares about elections in our state, helped a campaign many years ago,” said Hodge’s senior campaign adviser Jon Sutton. “It was completely true to the books, and it’s not a story.”
ABC15 also attempted to reach Sears by phone and email today. We received no response.
The Attorney General’s office will not confirm or deny whether there is a criminal investigation involving Bolding.
A spokesperson said the office takes all complaints very seriously.
Meyer also filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office earlier this week, claiming Bolding’s nonprofit group Our Voice, Our Vote AZ is violating campaign finance laws by making independent spending. to support his campaign.
Bolding denied the charges last week and gave ABC15 a copy of its “firewall policy” designed to ensure compliance with the law.
ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius covers the 2022 Secretary of State race. Got a news tip? Email Melissa at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.