Rep. Juan Ciscomani worked for governor who made Arizona water crisis worse
Ciscomani has accepted $4,800 from a lobbyist who sold out an Arizona water resource.
Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) has made water protection a core plank of his reelection campaign despite working in an administration that exacerbated Arizona’s water scarcity crisis.
Ciscomani was elected to represent Arizona’s sixth congressional district in 2022. On his website, Ciscomani boasts that he spent more than seven years as a senior advisor to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
“Juan worked for the University of Arizona and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce before joining Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s administration,” the website says. “Juan focused on the issues of international trade and diplomacy, border security, and economic development.”
Ciscomani’s duties appear to have primarily concerned economic relations with Mexico.
In 2015, when Ciscomani held this position, the Ducey administration cut a deal leasing a large portion of the Butler Valley to Fondomonte Arizona, a Saudi Arabian farming company. They used the land to grow alfalfa, a crop that requires large amounts of water to thrive. Fondomonte Arizona was not required to report their water usage.
Environmental and water conservation activists criticized the deal.
“Fondomonte, a Saudi Arabian agricultural firm, has rented a 3,500-acre plot of state-owned land at a steeply discounted rate to grow feed for cattle in Saudi Arabia,” Jeremy Miller wrote in a 2022 piece for the Sierra Club. “To grow its crop, Fondomonte is slurping up as much as 18,000 acre-feet per year—enough water to supply 54,000 homes.”
Tom Buschatzke, the water resources director appointed by Ducey, defended the leases.
“Those folks have as much right as any other individual in the state of Arizona to grow their produce, grow their crops, sell them, export them,” Buschatzke told the Associated Press in 2015.
A chief architect of the deal was Jordan Rose, an Arizona-based lawyer and lobbyist who worked on behalf of Fondomonte Arizona. Rose has donated a total of $4,800 to Ciscomani’s campaigns.
In 2023, Ciscomani participated in an infrastructure panel hosted by Rose’s law firm.
Last year, current Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs terminated Fondomonte Arizona’s leases after a state investigation found they were improperly storing fuel.
A spokesperson for Ciscomani did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
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