Finchem broke the law by not disclosing payment from Trump, complaint alleges

By: - February 23, 2021 8:56 am
Mark Finchem

Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley. Screenshot via YouTube

A liberal watchdog group is asking the Secretary of State to investigate whether Oro Valley Republican legislator Mark Finchem violated Arizona law by not disclosing the existence of a business entity that received more than $6,000 from President Donald Trump for his efforts to help overturn Arizona’s election results

Trump’s campaign paid $6,037 to “Mrk Finchem Pllc” on Dec. 18 for “recount: legal consulting.” The Campaign for Accountability found that in Finchem’s most recent required financial disclosure with the secretary of state, Finchem did not disclose the existence of the entity. 

“Moreover, it appears that Representative Finchem has failed to disclose the existence of Mark Finchem, PLLC on any of the financial disclosure forms he filed with your office since 2015 when he was first required to do so upon his election as a member of the State House of Representatives,” Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith wrote in the letter to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. 

Finchem did not ever list the company, which has existed since 2008, as a source of income or as a business entity he controlled. Both are required by state law, and intentionally filing a false statement or failing to disclose everything required is a misdemeanor offense.

A review of financial disclosure statements by the Arizona Mirror found Finchem did disclose the PLLC as the entity holding his real estate license in 2017. But the next year, he disclosed that the entity holding his license was his employer, not the PLLC. 

Finchem created the company in 2008 for the purpose of “real estate sales & management.” He later took on a business partner — fellow Realtor Suzie Terry — and changed its name to Mark Finchem & Suzie Terry PLLC, but the business partnership ended when Finchem ran for the legislature and he changed the name back to Mark Finchem PLLC. 

A YouTube channel with the former name contains testimonials from clients and videos of properties, but hasn’t been active for four years. Finchem’s real estate license is currently inactive, according to the Arizona Department of Real Estate. 

In 2018, one of Finchem’s fellow legislators, GOP Rep. Jay Lawrence, paid Finchem’s company $648 for vehicle window screen printing, according to campaign finance documents. 

The PLLC has not reported any income in any of the statements reviewed by the Mirror.

Kuppersmith and her organization are alleging that Finchem has possibly violated Arizona law by not disclosing the money he received from the PLLC over the years and most recently, from Trump’s team. 

Arizona law dictates that an elected official disclose any source of income greater than $1,000 and all business entities the official is involved with.

“Arizona financial disclosure laws for public officials are not optional, yet Representative Finchem appears to have willfully failed to disclose a business entity and income received,” Kuppersmith wrote. “Elected officials are not above the law and the citizens of Arizona deserve a full and accurate accounting of Representative Finchem’s finances.”

The Campaign for Accountability is not the first group to raise objections over the company: Accountable.Us has also called on Finchem to explain why the Trump campaign paid him.

“Finchem apparently received this payment amidst his attempt to use his legislative power to influence the Arizona election result,” a statement by the group said. “The $6,037 payment to Finchem’s personal business amounts to roughly 25% of his annual salary as a legislator.”

In his most recent financial disclosure, the only income Finchem disclosed was what his wife earned as a laboratory manager for Roche Tissue Diagnostics. He earns a $24,000 salary for being a legislator, but did not disclose that.

The only business that Finchem reported a financial interest in is an Idaho-based energy company, of which he owns at least 50%.

In a statement last week given to Phoenix New Times, Finchem alluded to the fact that the Trump campaign payment was a partial reimbursement for holding a Nov. 30 hearing on the general election at which a variety of unfounded and debunked theories were aired falsely alleging that Arizona’s election was rigged in favor of Joe Biden. Finchem said the event cost him $25,000 and that $10,000 was “quickly” paid, including “roughly $6,000” from Rudy Giuliani, who led Trump’s post-election effort to overturn the election.

He has since been raising money to pay off the rest of that debt by taking to social media to ask his followers for donations

“I am so excited to tell you all that through your generosity we’ve raised $14,597.80,” Finchem said on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. “You have no idea how relieved I am that this is about to be lifted from my burdens.” 

Randy Pullen, the treasurer of the Make Arizona Safe Again PAC and a former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, previously told the Mirror that Finchem has submitted invoices to the PAC related to the hearing. The costs were for the Hyatt Regency, where the 10-hour event took place, putting the event on and for travel expenses for attendees, most of which came out of Finchem’s pocket, according to Pullen. 

“Unemployment check hit my account today,” one follower said in a reply to Finchem talking about the debts. “Sent you some of it. Thank you for your hard work and tenacity. The truth will win out.” 

Finchem did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.