(AP) — An Arizona elected official has resigned amid charges he paid women from the Marshall Islands to give up their children for adoption in the U.S.
Our sister station KPNX obtained Petersen's resignation letter.
"I am an innocent man, but the media and the Board of Supervisors have presumed my guilt rather than my innocence in this matter. The Board of Supervisors even disregarded their own report concluding that my office discharged all its statutory duties, and the legal standard governing suspensions of duly elected constitutional officers, because they believed no one would look too closely in light of the sensationalized and one-sided media environment. Several of the Supervisors voted to suspend me for being involuntarily absent from the office for less time than they were voluntarily absent; they were a jury of hypocrites.
I fought the Board’s initial decision because it felt wrong to capitulate to a suspension based on anything other than my performance in office—and because, as the Board’s own report concluded, I never neglected my duties as the Maricopa County Assessor. Anyone can second guess the hours I spent at the downtown office, or whether the position should be appointed rather than elected, but I performed my statutory duties with honesty and the support and loyalty of an entire office.
Two regrets as I leave public life are that I did not have an opportunity to personally thank the professional team with whom I served for over 14 years in the Assessor's office, and that this spectacle has distracted them from their dedication to fairly and equitably valuing all property in Maricopa County.
Today, I reluctantly resign as Maricopa County Assessor. My focus now turns to defending the allegations against me. Those allegations will ultimately be resolved in a courtroom, where rules and the Constitution still matter."
Petersen has been charged with illegally paying women to come to the United States to give up their babies for adoption in three states.
He faces human smuggling charges in Utah and Arkansas and is accused of defrauding Arizona's Medicaid system.
His attorneys say Petersen ran a legal adoption practice and has been vilified before his side of the story comes out.
The Maricopa County Board expected Petersen's resignation at a special session Wednesday (Jan. 8) morning.
The board met in closed session Tuesday morning to review a formal report on its investigation of Petersen for neglect of duty.
The meeting was recessed until Wednesday, with no action taken, KPNX reports.
Petersen, a Mesa Republican, was paid $77,000 a year as county assessor.
Author: Jacques Billeaud, Associated Press