Tanner Bell in deeper hot water over connections to Independent Expenditure Committees

by David Safier

Last week a 13 page complaint was filed against Tanner Bell, who's running against Sharon Bronson for a Pima County Supervisor seat. The basic charge is similar to the complaints filed against Ally Miller by her Republican primary challengers Mike Hellon and Stuart McDaniel and by her Democratic opponent, Nancy Young Wright. The complaints against both Bell and Miller say their campaigns had too-close-for-comfort relationships with the Independent Expenditure committees running ads on their behalf since both of them used Tagline Media. You can read the complaint against Bell here.

Now it looks like things are getting a little stickier for Bell. The Tucson Sentinel's Dylan Smith has new information. Christina Cruz, who works for Tagline Media, is currently doing some work for Bell, even though Tagline insists it severed its connection with the campaign before it began doing work for the Independent Expenditure committees.

Bell said that Cruz "isn't my campaign manager, Sherry Potter is." Cruz "does some social media stuff for us, Facebook, etc.," he said.

Cruz's own social media pages — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — indicate she works for TagLine.

Bell's most recent campaign finance statement included $500 paid directly to Cruz for consulting work.

Another Internet-related connection between Bell and TagLine is his campaign website. Weisel is listed on Internet whois records as the administrative and technical contact for votetannerbell.com. TagLine is listed as the registrant.

Internet regulations require domain registration records to be kept up to date.

"I'm not 100 percent sure about the technical stuff," Bell said. "I know we can update the site without contacting (TagLine). Beyond that, I'm unsure about those issues."

According to a Pima County Democratic Party Media Release, "If Bell is telling the truth, he may have inadvertently admitted to a criminal violation of the law."

You can read the Pima Dem's Media Release below the fold.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jeff Rogers
Chair, Pima County Democratic Party
30 October, 2012
Cell – (520) 360-0924
Office – (520) 624-4700
jrogers@pimadems.org

Evidence Mounts in Tanner Bell Collusion Probe   

Tuesday, 30 October
Tucson – With only one week remaining in the District 3 race for County Supervisor, evidence of illegal collaboration between Bell and the mysterious independent committee working on his behalf continues to mount.

The new allegations compound an already precarious legal situation for Bell, whose campaign has been in damage control mode since being hit by a 13 page legal complaint against Bell and the outside committee of developer Michael Farley on Friday. The complaint detailed extensive violations of both state and federal law, specifically pertaining to a complicated and premeditated scheme to coordinate efforts between the Bell campaign and Farley’s committee – a political committee entirely funded by dark money and anonymous donations. Such coordination is illegal under state law.

New evidence of illegal coordination between Bell, Farley and their apparent intermediary Deb Weisel of Tagline Media emerged late Friday. In an interview with the Tucson Sentinel's Dylan Smith, Weisel – who has already violated the law by working for both campaigns – denied that any of her employees remained at work for the Bell campaign. Bell told a different story, confirming that Weisel’s employee was still managing his social network efforts on behalf of his campaign. If Bell is telling the truth, he may have inadvertently admitted to a criminal violation of the law.

“Its interesting to see Michael Farley bloviate about the amount of money he spent on attorneys,” said local attorney and Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rogers who added, “He’s going to need some better lawyers. While he’s out there denying these charges, his co-conspirators are hard at work admitting to them.”

Officials with the Secretary of State’s office are reviewing the complaint. If sufficient evidence is found, it be forwarded to the Attorney General’s office for criminal investigation, placing Bell, Farley and Tagline in legal hot water.

Rogers is confident that the complaint will move forward. “There are criminal violations here. These folks planned and coordinated this scheme and left a long trail of evidence – poorly concealed – along the way. I think they should be facing an investigation pretty soon.”

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