AZ Governor Katie Hobbs accused in alleged 'pay-for-play' scheme involving group home operator

Governor Katie Hobbs is under investigation over her ties to the operator of group homes for foster kids. It comes after reports that a firm named Sunshine Residential Homes, Incorporated made six-figure donations to the Governor's inauguration fund and the Arizona Democratic Party, just before getting a large rate hike from the state.

The case was first reported and detailed by the Arizona Republic, and both the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office are looking into this.

Sunshine Residential Homes, Incorporated runs group homes for foster kids, and is the only one out of dozens of operators that was approved for a rate hike during Gov. Hobb’s tenure. It’s a company already on the radar screen of state lawmakers like Republican State Senator TJ Shope.

"We have an entity here in Sunshine Residential that currently has a lawsuit pending against it, because a young man below the age of 10 passed away because he was not administered insulin," said State Sen. Shope, who represents the state's 16th Legislative District.

According to reports by the Arizona Republic, Sunshine Residential was denied a rate increase in December 2022, but donated $100,000 to the Hobbs inaugural campaign three days later.

The next year, the increase was approved: $234 per day. It was higher than the average $169 for other group homes.

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"We were talking about millions of dollars, and to know that not many, if any at all, have seen rate increases that large, it was definitely troubling," said State Sen. Shope.

Sunshine also donated $200,000 to the Arizona Democratic Party, and the firm's CEO was on the Hobbs inauguration committee.

State Sen. Shope says it’s either a crazy coincidence, or pay-to-play. Now, it's up to investigators to determine what happened.

"I have to believe that they, at the very least, see the allegations the same way that I do, which is troubling at best and possibly worse," said State Sen. Shope.

We have reached out to Sunshine Residential Homes on June 7, but a person with the company says no one was available to talk. Meanwhile, Governor Hobbs' office has sent out a statement, which reads:

"Just like past investigations instigated by radical and partisan legislators, the administration will be cleared of wrongdoing. Governor Hobbs is a social worker who has been a champion for Arizona families and kids. It is outrageous to suggest her administration would not do what’s right for children in foster care."