Lawmaker benefits from tax credits he helped design - Tucson News Now

Lawmaker benefits from tax credits he helped design

Arizona state Sen. Steven Yarbrough is widely popular among advocates of school choice for his support for and sponsorship of laws that benefit the state's tuition tax credit program. (Source: CBS 5 News) Arizona state Sen. Steven Yarbrough is widely popular among advocates of school choice for his support for and sponsorship of laws that benefit the state's tuition tax credit program. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Arizona state Sen. Steven Yarbrough is widely popular among advocates of school choice for his support for and sponsorship of laws that benefit the state's tuition tax credit program.

But a CBS 5 investigation found Yarbrough's own finances are tied to the program and have benefited from the laws he has helped to pass.

"It seems like a conflict of interest to me," said Jenifer Darland, a mother of school-aged children and an advocate for public education.

She said she was shocked when she learned Yarbrough, a Chandler Republican, is the executive director of the state's second-largest tuition tax-credit organization, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, or ACSTO.

STOs, as they are known, receive donations from Arizona taxpayers and turn those funds into scholarships for students to attend private school. The donors are reimbursed dollar-for-dollar by the state, up to $1,000 for a married couple.

The STOs are allowed to spend up to 10 percent of the donations they receive on administrative expenses, thanks to laws Yarbrough and others have sponsored. In Yarbrough's case, that has added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

"We are paying his mortgage. We are paying his rent," Darland said.

An examination of the most recent tax return for ACSTO shows Yarbrough receives a salary of $96,000 per year. ACSTO also paid for his car. It paid $426,000 to a company called HY processing, which Yarbrough serves as part owner. The organization also paid $127,000 in leasehold improvements and $50,000 rent to the landlord. Yarbrough owns the building.

"I don't think it looks good on Steve and I don't think it looks good on the Legislature," said former Senate Minority Leader David Schapira.

He put together a bi-partisan task force with the goal of closing the loopholes that allow the administrators of the STOs to double- and triple-dip when billing for expenses.

"Unfortunately, the recommendations that we made, which came out in bill form, which I sponsored, they didn't pass. They didn't even get a hearing," Schapira said.

CBS 5 Investigates reached out to Yarbrough via email to ask for an on-camera interview. The senator replied that he would answer questions in writing, but only after we identified his critics and cited specific legislation that he sponsored.

Here is the email chain to and from Yarbrough, including his answers to questions about his involvement in the school tuition organization.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Empty former Bookman’s lot could become small parklet

    Empty former Bookman’s lot could become small parklet

    Monday, June 25 2018 1:56 AM EDT2018-06-25 05:56:54 GMT

    It’s been a few months since the spot Bookman’s once called home on Campbell and grant was torn down. In another five to eight years, the empty dirt area won’t exist at all once grant Road gets widened.  Those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods want to make something of the space until then.

    It’s been a few months since the spot Bookman’s once called home on Campbell and grant was torn down. In another five to eight years, the empty dirt area won’t exist at all once grant Road gets widened. Those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods want to make something of the space until then.

  • Man attacked by bobcat near Bisbee, agencies search for wild animal

    Man attacked by bobcat near Bisbee, agencies search for wild animal

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:44 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:44:35 GMT

    A man walking his dog in a neighborhood street off Naco Highway in Cochise County claims he was attacked by a bobcat Sunday morning. Cochise County Sheriff's Office shared the news in a press release Sunday evening. It stated that deputies and USDA personnel didn't locate the bobcat soon after 7:15 a.m., but they took the following report from the man. He noticed the bobcat in some brush near Della Street and Barnett Road. He told first responders that he let his dog go and tol...

    A man walking his dog in a neighborhood street off Naco Highway in Cochise County claims he was attacked by a bobcat Sunday morning. Cochise County Sheriff's Office shared the news in a press release Sunday evening. It stated that deputies and USDA personnel didn't locate the bobcat soon after 7:15 a.m., but they took the following report from the man. He noticed the bobcat in some brush near Della Street and Barnett Road. He told first responders that he let his dog go and tol...

  • UPDATE: I-10 reopens after crash near San Simon

    UPDATE: I-10 reopens after crash near San Simon

    Sunday, June 24 2018 7:21 PM EDT2018-06-24 23:21:20 GMT
    A map from ADOT shows where the crash happened (Source: ADOT).A map from ADOT shows where the crash happened (Source: ADOT).

    A crash Sunday afternoon closed both directions of travel on Interstate 10 near San Simon, according to tweets from Arizona Department of Transportation.

    A crash Sunday afternoon closed both directions of travel on Interstate 10 near San Simon, according to tweets from Arizona Department of Transportation.

Powered by Frankly