By Ryan J. Reilly, Talking Points Memo
A lobbyist suspected of working for the feds in an FBI corruption sting was asked to leave a fundraiser for two state Republicans that was attended by Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin (R), TPM has learned.
Lobbyist Mike Williams, who is suspected of being involved in a wide-ranging corruption probe of Arizona politicians which has already ensnared Rep. Ben Arredondo, was asked to leave a June 18 fundraiser by lobbyist Stan Barnes, who was hosting the event at his firm Copper State Consulting Group in Phoenix. Donations at the “M-Squared Fundraser” went to Republican state Sen. Michele Reagan and Republican state Rep. Michelle Ugenti, while Tobin was a special guest.
Records show that Tobin met with Williams on Feb. 16, 2009 when the lobbyist was representing Longford Solutions, which purported to be a Wall Street firm interested in buying up Arizona real estate. As TPM first reported, Longford Solutions was actually a fake company created by the FBI as part of a corruption sting. Tobin has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Williams was on the invite list for this week’s event, but sources said Barnes did not think it was appropriate for him to be there given the open questions about his role in the corruption sting. Barnes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tobin had no role in asking Williams to leave the event, according to spokesman Ray Torres. The House Speaker also has no recollection of the February 2009 meeting at where Williams was working to advance the legislative goals of the FBI’s fake corporation, according to Torres. The meeting also does not appear on Tobin’s calendar, he added.
Torres also said that Sen. Reagan, a Tea Party favorite who served in the House until she was elected to the Senate in 2010, invited Williams to the event. Ugenti, best known for telling opponents of a bill which would require even the poorest students to pay at least $2,000 to attend state college “welcome to life,” had no role in asking Williams to leave the fundraiser, Torres said. Reagan’s office had no immediate comment.
Williams has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
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