The state of Arizona is now investigating allegations of massive corruption among government officials in Quartzsite, Ariz., the town that’s the focus of worldwide attention after police forcibly removed a woman from speaking at a town-hall meeting, and where the mayor today says he’s not being paid and most local police officers are wrongly being fired and have been ordered not to leave their homes.
“I’m no longer getting paid as mayor,” said Ed Foster, the elected head of Quartzsite. “That’s not a big deal, but it’s in the town code that I get a stipend of $400. If they made a decision to withdraw my stipend, they have to do it in public, so just the decision to do it in private is another violation of the open-meeting law. It’s just idiocy.”
Quartzsite has become infamous since WND first publicized the ouster of Jennifer Jones, publisher of the Desert Freedom Press, over the vocal objections of Mayor Foster who pleaded with his own police not to remove her.
A video of the June 28 town-hall fiasco posted on YouTube has been viewed more than 100,000 times.
Foster, who's been at war with his own council and Police Chief Jeff Gilbert whom he has called corrupt and "a Nazi," believes potentially millions of dollars of taxpayer money is being illegally funneled through secret checks to unnamed councilmembers.
Mayor Ed Foster of Quartzsite, Ariz., says his town is filled with massive corruption among government officials.
"Those checks are the real story," he said. "The response [of the council and police chief] has been overwhelming and vicious to the Nth degree."
The council met earlier this month as it locked out the public and declared a "state of emergency," allegedly due to personal threats resulting from the national exposure.
WND contacted the office of Gov. Jan Brewer to see what, if anything, it was doing about the ongoing situation, and received a brief response from Tasya Peterson, the deputy press secretary.
"Mayor Foster of Quartzsite visited with the governor's Office of Constituent Services about this matter," Peterson said. "One of the roles of Constituent Services is to help guide individuals to the proper place for assistance. In this instance, based upon the mayor's allegations, Constituent Services suggested that he address his concerns with the attorney general's office and AZPOST [Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board]. Constituent Services understands that this did occur and these offices will decide if and how to proceed."
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Tom Horne simply said, "It is under investigation."
Foster confirmed that "the investigation is now underway," as he indicated some state legislators and state police are now involved.
The mayor also says the vast majority of officers on the town's small police force are in the process of being let go merely because they don't support the actions of Chief Gilbert.
"They're being fired," he said. "They took their police reports to the U.S. attorney's office to file a formal complaint about this today."
The town has not actually fired them yet, but has placed nine officers on "paid, adminstrative leave until such time that you are told otherwise or until your employment is terminated," according to a letter it delivered to the officers today.
That letter instructs the officers: "You are required to remain at your place of residence between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon and between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Failure to be present at your residence during those hours without express written approval from the investigator, Assistant Town Manager Al Johnson, shall be considered dereliction of duty and may result in additional disciplinary action, including dismissal."
The letter also says it constitutes a direct order not to discuss the matter with anyone outside the investigation.
Foster noted, "There's conspiracy of the town council to use the police department, the building department and the tax auditor to promote their political agenda and ensure their re-election. That's a perfect RICO case with conspiracy. The U.S. Justice Department likes those words."
Meanwhile, Jennifer Jones, the 45-year-old woman frog-marched from the town meeting is hoping state or federal officials take action quickly.
"We are actually living in anarchy here," she said. "The rules don't apply here. Someone needs to step in immediately and stop this nonsense."
Jones says the records keeper for the police department has been put on administrative leave, and the town clerk has been consistently out of the office.
"There is no one watching the documents at the police station or town hall right now," Jones said. "The police chief and town manager have access to the records and nobody will know if anything's gone missing."
"This is beyond insane because these people are so completely out of control that they don't know which end they eat from and which end they sh-- from."
Jones says she and other residents who object to the town council's actions have been living in a state of fear since the council declared its emergency.
"I've had a militia from Mohave County offer me an armed escort if I needed it," she said. "I told 'em I think I'm OK, but you never know. I'm really starting to wonder. We're not armed with weapons. We're armed with a camera. We're a little bit outgunned here. I'm afraid of losing everything that I own that I worked all these years for."
Jones appeared yesterday on the Fox Business Channel's "Freedom Watch" program, where host Charles Payne told her, "This sounds like something from a 'B' movie where the police chief has taken over a town, and yet no one is fighting back other than yourself."
The ongoing conflict has even caught the eye of the political left, including former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, who now hosts a show on Al Gore's Current TV.
Last week, Olbermann named Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert as one of the "worst persons in the world."
"Even the far left knows this is wrong," Jones said. "The right knows this is wrong. The guy on the street knows it's wrong. We all know it's wrong, and yet it's still going on.
None of the town council nor the police chief or town manager has responded to numerous WND requests for comment, and since WND's original report, the town has scrubbed the councilmembers names, faces and email addresses from its official website.
A Facebook support page for Mayor Foster has been inundated with viewership and messages of solidarity.
"It's amazing how many similar stories there are out there in small-town America," Foster told WND.
"When you have a corrupt government, nobody's gonna pay attention to 'em. You're at the mercy of them. ... Until Jones got dumped on there in that meeting, the [state] government wasn't paying any attention to Quartzsite. ... The light's shining on [the local corrupt officials now] but they don't appear to be running for cover yet. The war is not over by a long shot. We still the need the world's attention on it."
Don Lowery, the sheriff of La Paz County which includes Quartzsite, has been flooded with calls from outraged citizens asking him to fix the problem in Quartzsite, but he has declined.
"I do not have the power or authority to go down and remove the chief of police," he told the Parker Pioneer.
"At this time, the town of Quartzsite is an incorporated community with an elected town council that represents the people. I am not in any position to interfere with the inner workings of their government. I have faith in our system and I feel that any issues will be addressed with everyone's best interest in mind."