Pearce Recall Update: Lawsuit filed over Pearce-Cortes election fraud scheme

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Recall Things are breaking quickly in the Pearce Recall election. On Friday, the Arizona Secretary of State declined to investigate the sham candidacy of Olivia Cortes asserting that his office lacks jurisdiction. State will not remove Olivia Cortes from recall ballot; Russell Pearce's Olivia Cortes Fiasco: Complaint Shot Down by SOS, Lawsuit Will Be Filed Soon:

In a letter from State Election Director Amy Chan (formerly Amy Bjelland, Chan is her new married name), the SOS dismissed McDonald's claims of election fraud, writing:  

 chanletter111.jpg

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You can read the entire Chan letter, here. Also, Pearce's 2010 general election opponent Andrew Sherwood has produced an interesting flow-chart showing some of the connections between Cortes and Pearce. You can take a gander at it, here.

A lawsuit was then filed late Friday by East Valley resident Mary Lou Boettcher alleging that Cortes is a Pearce supporter and calling her a “fraudulent and diversionary candidate.” Lawsuit filed against Cortes; claims she’s a ‘fraudulent” candidate - Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required):

Boettcher told the court she suspects Pearce’s supporters put her up to mislead Hispanic voters into believing Cortes “would be a viable alternative, when in fact she is a sham.”

The intent of Cortes’ candidacy is to divert votes from Mesa Republican candidate Jerry Lewis, who is considered the top contender to unseat Pearce in the recall election.

Boettcher repeated many of the accusations against Cortes, including media reports about how known Pearce’s supporters helped to gather the signatures to get her on the ballot.

To back up her claim, Boettcher also said Cortes has no campaign headquarters, no fundraising efforts, and has declined media interviews.

She asked the court to block Cortes’ name from being on the ballot.

Boettcher is assisted by attorney Thomas Ryan, the same lawyer who recently defended the recall petition in court.

Stephen Lemons adds at the Phoenix New Times, Russell Pearce's "Sham" Candidate Olivia Cortes Sued by LD 18 Voter:

Thomas Ryan is not bringing the suit on behalf of CBA and he is not being paid for his services.

"I am totally pro bono," he told me via e-mail. "This is not in any way involved with the CBA or the Campaign of Jerry Lewis. This is an effort to assist the voters of LD 18 to have the fairest, and most importantly, cleanest election possible. May the most honorable candidate win."

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Ryan is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent Cortes' name from being placed on the November 8 ballot.

You can read the entire complaint for yourself, here.

Early voting was set to begin October 13 in the recall election. 

The lawsuit prompted Cortes' handlers to launch a bare-bones website www.oliviacortes.com (Olivia Cortes for Arizona Senate LD18) that asks for volunteers to help her put up campaign signs in Mesa, and asks for donations. It is the first sign of any activity in her stealth campaign. It is a transparent attempt to refute the allegations of the complaint after the complaint had already been filed.

According to Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services, Lawsuit challenges candidate in Mesa recall vote:

The lawsuit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court late Friday, the deadline under state law to file a legal challenge in the recall race.

It wasn't known immediately what impact, if any, the lawsuit may have because Maricopa County started printing ballots late Friday.

That process won't stop without a court order, county elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said.

There are remedies available, including requiring mail notice and posting notices at polling locations which notify voters that "Olivia Cortes has been disqualified as a candidate and your vote will not be counted," should Thomas Ryan win this lawsuit.

In other breaking news, the Arizona Republic reports that Michael O'Neil, president of O'Neil Associates Inc. of Tempe, "one of Arizona's most prominent public-opinion pollsters has abandoned 30 years of carefully nurtured political neutrality by launching a bare-knuckled attack against Senate President Russell Pearce." Leading Phoenix-area pollster slams Pearce:

Michael O'Neil, president of O'Neil Associates Inc. of Tempe, has started Citizens for a Sane Arizona and a website, www.sanearizona.com, accusing Pearce, a Mesa Republican, of numerous acts of malfeasance.

Calling Pearce "a bully with a twisted vision for Arizona that betrays our wonderful history and jeopardizes the future we want for our children," the website urges Pearce's defeat in a Nov. 8 recall election.

It is rare for an independent pollster to jump so starkly into political battle.

"I did this after a great deal of thought because I've maintained a position of absolute neutrality," O'Neil said. "This case presents such a harm to the state that I basically concluded that it's time for Mike O'Neil, citizen, to step up."

He said there could be reprisals against him, but after a long career, he is financially secure, adding, "I decided this case was just too extreme and just too much to ignore. The harm that's being done to this state, the level of hate and scapegoating just called for stepping up, and damn the consequences."

Finally, Stephen Lemons is alleging a violation of the code of judicial conduct against Russell Pearce's brother, Lester Pearce, an elected Justice of the Peace. Russell Pearce's Brother Judge Lester Pearce Campaigns for Russell Despite Ethics Rules:

Lester Pearce, brother to state Senate President Russell Pearce and longtime Justice of the Pearce for the North Mesa Justice Court, allegedly has been campaigning on behalf of his embattled sibling, despite a prohibition on such activities by the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct.

Several individuals in Mesa have told me that Judge Pearce has been haranguing supporters of Pearce-challenger, Republican Jerry Lewis. Some who have Lewis signs in their yards have been approached by Lester Pearce, with the JP trying to convince them to replace a Lewis sign with a Pearce one.

One person who experienced Judge Pearce's' wrath explained in detail how Pearce tried to convince the individual to do the switcheroo with the lawn signs. This person, who wished to remain nameless for fear of retribution from the powerful Pearce clan, refused.

Another individual, who also wished to remain anonymous for the same reasons, said several folks in Judge Pearce's neighborhood similarly had been approached.

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Judge Pearce was also at a recent Legislative District 19 meeting where a resolution in favor of his brother was presented by Pat Oldroyd, another Cortes petition circulator with strong ties to the Senate President. 

As you can see in this video, when videographer Dennis Gilman and I attempted to interview Oldroyd on camera, the JP intervened and blocked us from talking with her.

So what's the problem with Lester Pearce volunteering for his brother's effort to beat back the recall?

Well, the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct contains a blanket prohibition on any campaigning by judges, other than for their own runs for office.

In Canon Four, the code states that a judge or judicial candidate may not, "publicly endorse or  oppose  another candidate for any public office," nor may they, "actively take part in any political campaign other than his or her own campaign for election, reelection or retention in office."

There is no loophole for the campaigns of family members, as the code makes clear:

"Although members of the families of judges and judicial candidates are free to engage in their own political activity, there is no `family exception' to the prohibition…against a judge or candidate publicly endorsing candidates for public office. 

"A judge or judicial candidate must not become involved in, or publicly associated with, a family member's political activity or campaign for public office. To avoid public misunderstanding, judges and judicial candidates should take and should urge members of their families to take reasonable steps to avoid any implication that the judge or judicial candidate endorses any family member's candidacy or other political activity." (Italics added.)

George Riemer, executive director of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct explained to me that the code covers all judges, including justices of the peace.

He also told me the commission is "complaint driven" when it comes to cases of possible misconduct, meaning a member of the public normally would have to lodge a complaint in order to initiate an investigation.

And if the commission finds that a judge has erred?

"If they find a violation, it depends on the severity," Riemer stated. "It could go from an informal reprimand, which is a public sanction, up to, basically, censure, suspension, even removal."

Lemons adds: "The judge is a bit of an oddball, shilling for the uber-conservative National Center for Constitutional Studies, a sort of ersatz-John Birch Society that holds that the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired, and can be traced directly back to Moses." 

0 responses to “Pearce Recall Update: Lawsuit filed over Pearce-Cortes election fraud scheme

  1. I love the smell of justice in the morning.