Bill Lenhart and Justin Chambers

KINGMAN – Kingman City Manager Ron Foggin informed elected officials and municipal management team members Monday that he was caught off guard by news of the indictment of a city business partner for an alleged campaign contribution violation.

Foggin issued a memo about learning that Bill Lenhart, whose Sunbelt Development firm is working with the city on the proposed Interstate 40 Rancho Santa Fe Interchange and Parkway project, had been charged with making an unlawful campaign contribution by a corporation.

“This is shocking and I for one had no idea this was happening,” Foggin’s email said. “At this point, I really do not know if/how this will affect the Rancho Santa Fe TI project. When I learn more, I will let you know.”

Council member Deana Nelson said she is convinced the project is dead. She said she believed the $20 million in state funding secured by local state representative Regina Cobb was already teetering due to the pandemic and Cobb’s transition plan from the legislature due to term limits.

Nelson believes the indictment development will result in the state money being swept from the Kingman interchange that would run one arterial north to the airport and another south to Hualapai Mountain Road, opening up new areas for development. Mayor Jen Miles and Mohave County supervisor Jean Bishop expressed hope that the project will not be derailed.

Lenhart did not attend his Monday morning arraignment before Judge Billy Sipe in Kingman and there was no proof that he had been served papers directing him to do so. Todd Lawson, the Assistant Attorney General prosecuting the case, informed the Court that Lenhart called his office ten minutes before the hearing started.

Lawson said he instructed Lenhart to call the Court, but he apparently did not because he did not respond when Judge Sipe asked him if he was on the conference line. Sipe rescheduled Lenhart’s arraignment to next Monday.

Court documents regarding the case have not been available because everything was confidential before Monday’s hearing. An investigation in 2018 explored various campaign contributions to Kingman council and mayoral candidates, including those made by Lenhart and John Timko, the retired county finance director who works for Sunbelt.

It is unclear why the 2018 investigation took so long to reach point of indictment. Local realtor Justin Chambers is also charged with making an illegal corporate campaign contribution.

Sipe explained the class 6 felony is punishable by as little as probation or by as much as 4 years in prison. Chambers told the Court he was surprised when served indictment papers last Thursday.

“I thought this was a dead issue,” Chambers said. He said he’ll be hiring his own lawyer and Judge Sipe told him to return for a Nov. 16 pretrial conference.