Why was Arizona's welfare agency stockpiling a large cache of weapons?


The Arizona Department of Economic Security is the state’s primary welfare agency, taking care of food aid, child care, rehabilitation services, and other similar things. So why was there a large weapons cache in the basement of the agency’s headquarters?

You’d have to ask the department’s former director.

The Arizona Republic reported that last week, on the day former department director Tim Jeffries was forced to resign, state police found 50 handguns and 80,000 rounds of ammunition in a locked room in the department’s basement. (It’s unclear whether his ousting and the arms cache were connected.) They also discovered that Jeffries and four other department employees who were also fired had bought personal handguns with public money, and confiscated those weapons as well.

So why did Jeffries feel the need to arm a state welfare agency with the loadout of a small police department? Islamic terrorism. Yes, you read that correctly.

“These jihadists in San Bernardino attacked a social service center for the developmentally disabled. They will go anywhere,” Jeffries told the Republic when reached for comment. “As a director, one of my highest priorities was to protect my people and my clients. I stand by that with pride.”

So, because there once was a terrorist attack on a social service agency, all social service agencies now need to have small arsenals? That’s a fun and optimistic vision of the future.

This is far from the first time Jeffries has been in the spotlight. A spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey would not tell the Arizona Daily Star which single incident that led to his ouster, but there has been a long string of controversial incidents involving the director. He emailed the agency’s 7,000-plus staffers asking them to pray for him during his religious pilgrimage to a Catholic shrine in Lourdes, France. He sent out political messages condemning a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana. He fired almost 500 workers, half of whom the Arizona Republic reported had previously received merit raises for outstanding performance.

There are more bizarre stories too, such as claims he forced his staff to watch “mojo” videos of him delivering speeches. The Republic reported that employees they spoke with said their computers were programmed to not function until the videos were watched in their entirety. (Jeffries declined to comment to the media about his firing.)

No examples of these videos were provided, but the department’s YouTube page is filled with videos of Jeffries giving motivational TED-talk style speeches, like this one where Jeffries implores his employees to “self-select into awesomeness”

There are also gems like these. Each is more, um, unique than the last!

Most of these videos show Jeffries preaching to a captive audience of state workers. Guess they knew who’s got guns in the basement.

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