Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Tuesday morning that his office has determined that the city of Tucson could be held liable for forcing city employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Tucson’s vaccine mandate is illegal, and the city could be held liable for attempting to force employees to take it against their beliefs," Brnovich said in a press release exclusively obtained by Fox News. "COVID-19 vaccinations should be a choice, not a government mandate."
Arizona lawmakers recently passed S.B. 1824, which forbids city governments from imposing the COVID vaccine mandates on its employees. However, exploiting a loophole in the statute delaying the law from taking effect until Sept. 29, Tucson announced that public employees would be required to provide proof of COVID vaccinate by 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 24 or be suspended without pay.
Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order in response to the city of Tucson's announcement, in order to stop cities from implementing vaccine mandates before Sept. 29, but Tucson did not rescind its vaccination requirement.
The attorney general’s office (AGO) reached its conclusion following an investigation that found the mandate was in violation of both state statute and gubernatorial order and must be "rescinded or amended."
Brnovich's office warned that "if the City of Tucson does not rescind its policy within the next 30 days, the AGO will notify the Arizona Treasurer, who will withhold the city’s portion of state shared revenue until it comes into compliance."
"Additionally, the AGO believes the City of Tucson could subject itself to potential liability claims if it were to take adverse action against an employee who relies on E.O. 2021-18 and state law to refuse the vaccine," the attorney general's office says.
The announcement comes after weeks of investigation by Brnovich’s office.
Tucson city council member Steve Kozachik pushed back on the determination, telling Fox News in an emailed statement that "Brnovich needs to put away the political science book and try reading real science."
"There’s nothing illegal about our local ordinance, it comports with CDC recommendations and is in the best interest of public health," Kozachik said. "There’s a process, and we’ll avail ourselves of that defending what we have in place. In the meantime, I’d encourage all of our employees, and all of our residents to get a vaccination so we can put this all behind us."
Another city councilman, Paul Cunningham, said he "respectfully disagrees" with Brnovich and stands by city’s vaccine mandate policy.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and the rest of the Tucson city council did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.
Fox News' Kelly Laco contributed to this report.
Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox News Digital. You can find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.