Posted by Bob Lord
[UPDATE: I went up with this post because I felt there were some oddities surrounding the Pastor hit piece that called for explanation. The whole thing just didn't feel right. After posting, I realized that what was most odd about this was that the initial response to the mailer came first from Mario Diaz's independent expenditure group, not the Pastor campaign itself. IE groups generally do not take the lead in responding to attacks. They defer to the campaign. Remember, they can't coordinate with the campaign, so they need to wait for the campaign to speak publicly to make sure anything they say is on message.
The comments to my post, particular those from "you must be using some bad weed", raise further questions. I don't know who, besides Mario Diaz himself, would be motivated to look up his campaign contributions to me from 5 years ago in order to discredit me. And they're illogical. Logically, his contributions to me would enhance my credibility, because I'd be less likely to question someone who contributed as generously as Mario did to my campaign. It's hard to reconcile the personal tone of those comments with the source being someone off the street who just didn't like my post.]
Shocking timing – the first hit piece against any District 4 city council candidate landed Saturday - just three days before Tuesday’s election against Laura Pastor. The anonymous mail piece — paid for by a “private citizen,” — suggested Pastor and socialite Paris Hilton have gotten ahead because of their fathers, and the messaging was made to look like it came from David Lujan or his supporters. The piece was a call-back to an attack seen before – a hit back in 2007 when she ran for city council against Michael Nowakowski that accused her of being “Daddy’s Little Girl.”
On Saturday, Pastor and her opponents Lujan, Carroll and Johnson immediately denounced the piece on social media. Her opponents said neither they nor anyone from their campaign were behind it. The mailing appears to have gone out to a handful of Democratic activists to clearly get the base fired up on social media over the weekend. Mission accomplished.
But reporters and activists should dig deeper and ask questions. There are at least a few strands of GOP DNA on the Pastor attack piece, and a lot of questions on who would execute such a ham-handed sexist attack, and who really benefits.
First, the piece bears a striking resemblance to a mailer used against Mark Mitchell in the 2011 Tempe Mayor’s race against Republican Michael Monti. Using identical color schemes and themes, the Monti Campaign’s attack on Mitchell compared him to Donald Trump, labeled him “Prince Mark” and suggested that he – like Pastor – was riding on the coattails of his father. Monti’s campaign consultant was Jason Rose, a notorious Republican operative, known for over the top campaign tactics. Isn’t it at least worth asking – journalists — how oddly similar the Pastor piece is to the Mitchell piece? Is Rose the link to the Pastor mailing? And which District 4 campaign would be a part of Jason Rose’s orbit? Was the mastermind behind this hit piece REALLY from a “private citizen”?
Second, the line of attack is identical to one used by Mario Diaz, a close friend of Pastor, in a mailer sent by Diaz on behalf Warren Stewart’s campaign against Kate Gallego. In that mailer, also similar in style to the Pastor hit piece, Diaz accused Gallego of riding her husband Ruben’s coattails in order to pick up Latino votes in District 8. And to draw the parallel closer, Diaz attacked a woman candidate for riding a male family member’s coattails in a race where two of the three lead candidates were men, the same dynamic that exists in District 4.
Obviously the hit pieces directly from the Monti and Stewart campaigns were meant to do damage to Mitchell and Gallego. They were transparent. We knew where they came from. But the Pastor piece was blatantly hidden. It was sneaky. It was such a nasty horrible piece of garbage that nobody wanted to be associated with it. Why? If the piece was meant to damage Pastor’s campaign, it was so inept and overtly sexist that it’s having the opposite effect. Could that have been the plan?
Pastor and her people were awfully quick to take to social media to denounce the piece, seemingly a bit too quick. Once the mailer hit, an IE run by Mario Diaz had an email blast out to CD4 voters almost instantaneously from a website, www.families4laura.com, that has precious little content and may only have been launched in the last week or so, about the same time the mailer appears to have been conceived and launched. And why did the “private citizen” deicide to be positive about David Lujan, while saying nothing about Justin Johnson? Does the polling show that Pastor is battling Lujan, not Johnson, for the second runoff spot? Does Diaz have ties to Rose? New Times reports here and here regarding the closeness of Rose, a Republican operative, to the Stewart campaign, suggest that might be the case.
Why aren’t journalists asking more questions about this mailer? It’s a controversial and Machiavellian to even contemplate this, but has anybody at least asked Pastor if this could have come from her allies?
[Disclosure: I support both David Lujan in CD4 and Kate Gallego in CD8]