Conflict Of Interest is a real possibility at the Cochise County Planning & Zoning Commission.  Here is Section 3 of the November 26, 2013, issue of the CCIPRA newsletter.

3, Conflict of interest at the P&Z Commission?

The Weisslers' conduct at the November 13 Commission meeting was odd in another way:  Liza is chair of the Commission, and her husband Robert is apparently employed by the Friends Of the San Pedro, an organization which promotes expanding the Sierra Vista water rules into the country.  I'd never seen a member's spouse speak at a Commission meeting at all.

The basic state laws about conflict of interest are ARS 38-501 through -511 -- see them via
-- and ARS 38-503(B) says a "public officer ... who has, or whose relative has, a substantial interest in any decision of a public agency shall make known such interest in the official records of such public agency and shall refrain from participating in any manner as an officer ... in such decision."

Until Saturday, the only relevant info I had was an old Friends Of the San Pedro River report (thanks to a friend for providing it!) saying Robert was unpaid.  But then I got an email saying that at an Upper San Pedro Partnership meeting, Supervisor Pat Call asked Robert Weissler "if he is now getting paid and he said he was.  The Taxes of the Friends are not going to reflect that until their next filing."  For purposes of argument, this discussion assumes that the report is accurate.

There's no doubt that Liza is a public officer under ARS 38-502(8), Robert is her relative under ARS 38-502(9), and they both participated in the discussion on November 13.  So one question remains:  did Robert have a substantial interest in expanding Sierra Vista's water rules?

A substantial interest is, under ARS 38-502(11), "any pecuniary ... interest, either direct or indirect, other than a remote interest." "Remote interest" includes, under ARS 38-502(10)(i), the interest "of a relative of a public officer," except that the interest isn't remote if a Commission decision "would confer a direct economic benefit or detriment upon the ... relative".

So now we have to define "direct economic benefit or detriment."  Let's start in Chapter 8, "Conflict Of Interest," in our Attorney General's Agency Handbook, at

Section 8.3 says the "Legislature has determined that certain economic interests are so remote that they do not impermissibly influence a person's decisions or actions....  Unless the interest at issue [is] remote, the interest is substantial and creates a conflict of interest."

Section 8.4.2 says "If the ... relative is a non-salaried officer of a nonprofit corporation, he or she has a remote interest in any decision affecting that corporation."  Now, it's a basic legal doctrine that when items ON a list are included in a statute, items NOT on the list are excluded (in law school Latin, "expressio unius est exclusio alterius").  So if a NON-paid officer's interest is remote, a PAID officer's interest isn't.

But tiny facts matter.  For example, Section 8.3 cites a case which is online at
Some quotes from it show the analysis required:
.  "The prohibition against participation in a decision of an administrative board by a member having a 'substantial interest' in the decision is clearly for the purpose of preventing a board member from placing himself in a position whereby he would have a possible conflict of interest....
.  "... the legislature deemed it necessary to give the term 'substantial interest' a broad encompassing definition....  We do not believe however, that the legislature intended that the word 'interest' for purposes of disqualification was to include a mere abstract interest in the general subject or a mere possible contingent interest.  Rather, the term refers to a pecuniary or proprietary interest, by which a person will gain or lose something as contrasted to general sympathy, feeling or bias...."

Instead of dancing on hypothetical pins, let me conclude that there are enough facts for an investigation to be prudent and welcome.