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Prominent lobbyist angling for county attorney post, should Montgomery land on Supreme Court

By: - July 1, 2019 10:57 am

John Kaites. Photo via Fennemore Craig P.C./fclaw.com

Lobbyist and lawyer John Kaites is eyeing a possible appointment as Maricopa County’s top prosecutor if County Attorney Bill Montgomery gets a seat on the Arizona Supreme Court.

Kaites confirmed to Arizona Mirror that he has met with multiple members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors about the possibility. He said he hasn’t made any decisions about whether he’ll actually pursue an appointment if Gov. Doug Ducey picks Montgomery for the high court, but said he wanted to talk with supervisors about what they’re looking for and how the process would work if the position becomes vacant.

“There’s not a position open. Bill Montgomery’s doing a wonderful job. And if it becomes open, I would consider applying for it. But I certainly have not made that decision now,” he said. 

Kaites is no stranger to the world of law enforcement. Prior to serving a six-year stint in the legislature in the 1990s, Kaites was a prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and worked for the organized crime and racketeering division at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Kaites also pointed to his legislative record as a leader for reform in the juvenile justice system and rewriting Arizona’s criminal code. 

In 1998, Kaites unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in the race for attorney general, where rival Tom McGovern defeated him handily. McGovern narrowly lost the general election to future Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano. 

Kaites currently practices law at the firm Fennemore Craig, and is a principal and founding member of the security consulting firm Global Security and Innovative Strategies. He sold his lobbying practice, Public Policy Partners, in 2015. 

Montgomery was one of nine candidates whom the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, which is tasked with vetting judicial applicants, advanced to the next round of the selection process for retiring Chief Justice Scott Bales’ seat on the Arizona Supreme Court. The commission will interview candidates on July 26, and will select at least three names for the governor to choose from.

Anyone hoping for a vacancy in the county attorney’s office may have cause for optimism. During the recent selection process for Justice John Pelander’s seat, Montgomery didn’t make the final list of candidates that was forwarded to Ducey. But several of the commissioners who voted against have since been replaced, potentially clearing his path to the governor’s desk.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. 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.”