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  • Writer's pictureArizona Senate Democrats

“Easy target for fraud”- Marsh applauds Attorney General Mayes and condemns the ongoing lack of accountability and transparency in the ESA program

Arizona State Senate

1700 W. Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85007


Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 29, 2024


PHOENIX – Today, Attorney General Kris Mayes announced the State Grand Jury has indicted five individuals for allegedly operating a criminal conspiracy inside the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program itself. The defendants are accused of defrauding Arizona taxpayers of more than $600,000.   

 

“Attorney General Mayes has been a true champion for accountability and transparency in the ESA voucher program. Today, she announced that five people allegedly falsified birth certificates, created ‘ghost students,’ and manipulated the program’s original intent of serving Arizona students with disabilities. This news shows what an easy target for fraud this universal expansion really was. Legislative Republicans have consistently roadblocked attempts to pass safeguards on this program. These safeguards would have ensured that services for students with disabilities were not degraded, that our students were kept safe in schools accepting ESA voucher money and they would have put in place financial transparency requirements. I could not agree more that the lack of control, regulation, and appropriate oversight on this program has given bad actors an easy way to take advantage of our students and our tax dollars. It is deeply disturbing that my colleagues across the aisle seem to have no reaction to the ongoing fraud that continues to be uncovered. This Legislature’s latest inaction has cost the taxpayers another $600,000—this is nothing short of shameful.    

  

I echo the Attorney General’s call on the Legislature: it is high time the Legislature gets serious about putting some safeguards in place to prevent fraud in the first place.”    

 

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