Audit finds 5% of Petersen’s computer use since 2013 has been for official duties

Image by Nick Youngson | Alpha Stock Images/CC BY-SA 3.0

Hours after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to suspend indicted assessor Paul Petersen, the county released a summary of the audit it conducted of his office after Petersen’s arrest on charges stemming from an alleged adoption scheme.

Only 5% of the roughly 550 documents on Petersen’s county-issued desktop computer since he was appointed assessor in August 2013 related to his official duties, the audit report stated. The rest were related to his law practice, mostly pertaining to adoptions. Petersen had no remote access privileges for his computer, meaning he was working on those files while at the office, the report said.

County auditor Mike McGee reviewed about 1,500 total documents dating back to January 2006, when Petersen began working for the county. Only 14 percent of those total documents were related to county business, according to the report.

McGee wrote that a laptop computer the county issued to Petersen in 2007 is not in the county’s possession. 

Of the 1,000 phone calls from Petersen’s landline and county-issued cell phone that auditors reviewed, they found a small number that they deemed questionable, including five to Jamaica, seven to the Philippines and five to Arkansas, where Petersen had a lot of adoption business and where he now faces federal criminal charges.

The county also found a history of Petersen using his county computer to visit websites related to adoptions, legal services and other private business.

Petersen’s official email account appears to have been used mostly for official business. Auditors reviewed about 34,000 emails, 30,000 of which were dated after Petersen because assessor. Using keyword searches, auditors found only 181 that were unrelated to county business.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”