Over the last two years, a number of Republican elected officials have been charged with crimes. GOP congressmen Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter won their 2018 reelection bids despite having criminal charges hanging over their heads. Just this week, Hunter tendered his letter of resignation to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
One Arizona official, though, is charged with something infinitely worse than Hunter’s misuse of campaign funds or Collins’ insider trading. This week, Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen resigned after being charged with human trafficking back in October of 2019.
The Assessor is accused of having women from the Marshall Islands come to the United States to give birth. Those babies were then reportedly offered for adoption.
According to the charges, 28 women were flown to a house that Peterson owns in Utah. He faces charges in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah.
Peterson has long avoided resigning his position and has maintained his innocence. He told reporters, “My focus now turns to defending the allegations against me.”
In addition to human trafficking he is also charged with defrauding the Arizona Medicaid system of $800,000.
Peterson was suspended from his post after he was charged in October. His lawyer, Kurt Altman, said at the time, “The allegations against him have nothing to do with the operation of the County Assessor’s Office, which has not missed a beat during this trying time for Paul and his family.”
An alleged co-conspirator of Peterson, Lynwood Jennet, has already pleaded guilty to his role in the case.