Just across the street from the Arizona Capitol, a basement office held enough ammunition to supply a large police department’s weapons for three years, with no security to keep it out of bad guys’ hands, according to a new Department of Public Safety audit of the small arsenal amassed by fired Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries.
That’s one of many startling findings from a seven-month DPS investigation of the stash of dozens of guns and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition uncovered after Jeffries was sacked last November.
Among the audit’s conclusions:
-The 88,600 rounds of ammunition “may reasonably be described as excessive." It is three or four times what a large police department might need in a year. The report says more than 4,000 rounds can’t be accounted for.
-"Policies and procedures were violated on many levels." State procurement policies were ignored for several purchases, the report says.
-"There was essentially no security for what was found to be tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition" in a basement office. The report says DES employees had “easy access” to the 55 weapons.
Jeffries was building a police force at the Department of Economic Security, the report says, partly in response to the terrorist attack at San Bernardino.
But Jeffries had begun forming his own armed security force at DES, the state's largest agency, before the terror attacks. He told 12 News that employees were “begging” him for more security.
Several DES employees interviewed for the report claimed Jeffries wanted to arm every employee, but was talked out of it.
And deputies say Jeffries rushed to buy ammo ahead of the 2016 election, because he feared a President Hillary Clinton might clamp down on sales.
In an interview Monday, Jeffries issued a sweeping denial of the 783-page report -- and a legal threat.
“The report is disjointed, disingenuous, deceitful, dishonest and dishonorable,” he said. “I am lawyering up and I guarantee you this won't be the end.”
Jeffries said he was never interviewed by DPS investigators.
Gov. Doug Ducey fired Jeffries last November after Jeffries' own mass firings and alleged mistreatment of DES employees.
Jeffries said Monday that Ducey was aware of his plans for a security force. Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said “that statement is completely false.”
Jefferies, who has called Ducey a friend, said in January that the governor had provided a character reference for a job in the Trump administration.
But on Monday, Jeffries said he had asked Ducey and DPS Director Frank Milstead to retract the report and apologize.
Scarpinato provided this response to the DPS audit:
“Because of this activity within the Department of Economic Security, the governor took action last year and made major leadership changes. Following that, the interim DES director turned firearms and materials over to DPS, and sought this investigation to ensure accountability and transparency. While these old practices are no longer in effect, the investigation identifies how to prevent this from happening again, and our office will be working closely with the new leadership at DES to ensure DPS’s recommendations are followed.”