Russell Pearce's Prevarications Whitewashed by AZ Fact Check

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Sand Land's top canard-carrier, state Senator Russell Pearce

I've blogged till I'm blue in the face about the endless stream of whoppers concerning illegal immigration flowing from the pie-hole of racist state Senator Russell Pearce, the main sponsor of Arizona's "breathing while brown law" SB 1070.

One of Pearce's favorite falsehoods, a phony stat he's sputtered on numerous occasions, like he did back in April in an interview with Channel 12's Brahm Resnik, is that, "9,000 Americans [are] killed every year at the hands of illegal aliens."

I noted at the time that there's nothing to back that figure up. It's based on a faulty analysis by nativist Iowa Congressman Steve King of a 2005 GAO report. As often as it's been repeated, it's been debunked. The group Colorado Media Matters, for instance, has pummeled this spurious claim into steak tartare, over and over again.

So along comes's AZ Fact Check, which (surprise, surprise) discovers that the claim is as empty as Pearce's cranium, yet still labels its findings "inconclusive."

This, despite the closing line of the Fact Check itself: "Bottom Line: Pearce and King could not produce research to support their 9,000 estimate, which was disputed by a leading expert in the field."

Blogger Mitch Martinson over at has been all over this fumble from jump. He gives high marks to the research done by reporter Vaughn Hillyard, all of which is spot on. However, he notes that Hillyard likely did not have the final say in whether or not Pearce's claim was labeled "false" or "inconclusive."

Martinson writes:

"Now, it is unlikely that the reporters at the Arizona Republic/Channel 12/Cronkite School are the individuals determining what the final rating of a statement is.  Especially, when it is an ASU journalism school student doing the reporting.  Because it is hard to imagine that an award-winning student reporter who has already demonstrated a journalist's (good) strong principles would do the reporting that he has on State Sen. Russell Pearce's (R-LD18) use of statistics and still come up with a finding of `inconclusive.'"

In addition, Martinson correctly points out that the burden of proof is on the person spouting the stat. If Pearce and King concoct dubious factoids for their own political ends, and there's no valid evidence behind what they assert, we can assume they're full of bunk.

I'm reminded of that old H.L. Mencken quote: "Journalism is to politician as dog is to lamp-post." Martinson has the right idea: Call a spade a spade, or a canard a canard. Don't pussyfoot around when it comes to bigots and scoundrels such as Pearce and King. Otherwise, AZ Fact Check should lose its motto, "Keeping Arizona Honest."

Unless, of course, that tag's meant as a punch line.

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As illegal immigration came under control, murders in Phoenix dropped from a high of 250 to less than 100 annually. That is just one city!!!

It is Stephen Lemon whose pie hole spouts dishonesty.


I am sick of Kavanagh. I hate his accent. I hate the fact the guy is not from here but somehow bellows about what is best for my state. Frickin carpetbagger. Go back to Nuww Yaak...and let us Arizonans solve our own problems, you Arpaio shill.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

I forgot to address this aspect of Kavanagh's letter:

"In addition, it is difficult to ignore the fact that the decrease in crime in Arizona between 2008 and 2009 happened to coincided with the concurrent exodus of illegal immigrants out of Arizona due to increased state enforcement actions against them and the collapse of the job market."

As I noted recently, all during the height of the immigration boom (i.e., when border apprehensions in Arizona were at their highest), from 1993 to 2007, we've seen a huge and more or less continuous decrease in violent crime rates in Arizona (even the rare year over year increases were small): from 715.0 per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 531.7 per 100,000 residents in 2000 to 482.7 in 2007.

(scroll to the BOTTOM half for crime rates per 100,000 population)

Don't forget that 1992-3 was when Operation Gatekeeper and Operation Hold the Line (in San Diego Sector and El Paso Sector respectively) were initiated, though it wasn't until 1996 when San Diego Sector apprehensions dropped precipitously and Tucson Sector apprehensions surged. See "Southwest Border Apprehensions by Sector" (and year) in Figure 4 here:

In other words, during the time of the greatest Mexican illegal immigration wave into Arizona (though many of them were passing through to other states), violent crime was dropping dramatically and essentially continuously, in Arizona.

Note that this reflected similar trends nationally. The biggest correlate with the crime decrease trend is in fact the aging of the population. As individuals get older, they tend to commit less violent crime on average (serial killers and a few other hard cases notwithstanding); so as the population ages the violent crime rate tends to drop (and vice-versa during the rise of the baby-boomers).

Note the similar trend in property crimes: from a high of 7,500 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1995 there is an almost unbroken downward trend from year to year down to the 2007 rate of 4,414 per 100,000 inhabitants.

That both of these trends have continued since 2007 isn't surprising. Again, it seems to be the result of a long-term demographic shift toward an older population.


I noticed this a couple of days ago and wrote an email to the AZFactCheck editor:

I would like to draw you attention to some further facts about the incorrect claims Mr. Pearce is making based on Rep King's claimed statistics. I believe the labeling of these claims as inconclusive rather that false is in serious error.

Since these numbers are based on 2005 data, I will draw you attention to information from that time period.

According to the claim that 12 Americans are killed per day, on average, by illegal aliens, this would entail almost 4380 killings per year.

If one looks at FBI statistics for that year,, you will see that they report 16,692 murders took place. You will note that during that year it also indicates that 4955 people categorized as "white" (and this includes Hispanics for the purpose of this FBI document). This would mean that 1) no caucasians were arrested for murder and that every single one of these people were an illegal immigrant. This is simply preposterous.

Also, King claims to have extrapolated this data based on his belief that 28% of prison inmates are here illegally. This is contrary to any accepted facts. The Federal Government's Bureau of Justice Statistics report for mid-year 2005 notes that 6.4% of prisoners at the federal and state level are non-citizens. This would mean even less are here illegally.

When one considers the contrary evidence and the fact that no one is able to point to any actual statistics that show otherwise, it becomes quite clear that this claims are simply false. Also, these points have been raised in many places over the past 5 years and neither King nor Pearce has produced any information to counter them.


I think they're chicken shits who are afraid to call Russell Pearce a lying sack of crap.

Bill Stoller and Gerri Cocozza
Bill Stoller and Gerri Cocozza

We've turned Mr. Lemons' articles and allegations over to our ASU researchers, usually very objective. A Tucson Associate, who claims to know Dennis Gilman from the rallies, wrote,

"How are you, Emil? Long time. And I see Mr. Gilman in here also - hello Dennis, let's keep it cordial. If The Bird wants to discredit Pearce, he should discuss the EXISTING provisions of SB 1070 that funnel lawsuit damages (money) TO A STATE OF ARIZONA "Anti-Gang" FUND.

Very suspicious because Pearce's eager promotion of the bill can be seen as a MONEYMAKER FOR HIM AND ARIZONA. For example, a private citizen sues PUBLIC OFFICIAL Phil Gordon under the provision of 1070 that allows for lawsuits against public officials who will not enforce or who try to intetenionally STOP ENFORCEMENT. Let's say this private citizen got beaten and robbed by an illegal alien that the Phoenix cops could have stopped if not for the restrictions of Gordon's policies and Phoenix Police Order 1.4.3.

The citizen sues, gets damages of $150,000, but it ALL GOES TO THE STATE OF ARIZONA ANTI-GANG FUND, except for costs and attorneys fees. So the Joe Blow Citizen gets wailed on and injured, and PEARCE and BREWER and ARIZONA GET THE MONEY. Not cool.

Please post this for comments in Bird's blog. Thanks."

As we said, this gal/guy knows Dennis Gilman from the rallies and apparently is pro-enforcement, so s/he is making peace with Dennis and not holding any grudges against him. That's a step in the right direction.

Many Associates are getting mellower now because their case is on the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and they feel that they've won, that it'll be remanded or a default judgment will be issued against Phoenix, which never filed any paper in defense. Unbelievable.

Let's get some feedback on this excellent observation by the Tucson Associate.

Check out for the latest on Phoenix police and government corruption. That's - where the TRUTH hurts.

TIF with JTR on the blog, online and on time, for Stoller/Cocozza and The Class West, bloggers for the Class Action plaintiffs in OKON/STOLLER v. PHOENIX, U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit, # 09-16027 and The United States Supreme Court on Petition for Writ of Certiorari.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

It's funny, because when I saw that AZ Fact Check item all I noticed was that they were clobbering Russell Pearce; I didn't even notice the "inconclusive" rating, which admittedly is lame.

At any rate, much more troublesome than Russell Pearce's fabricated pseudo-statistics was the follow-up letter by state Rep. John Kavanaugh (R - Fountain Hills). Kavanaugh sent a letter to the editor that was published in the Friday, September 24th edition.

The gist of Kavanaugh's letter is that, using the figure of 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona (citing the Pew Research Center's pre-recession estimate), that gives illegals 7.6 percent of the state's population; whereas the Arizona Department of Corrections has published data (I've provided a link below) showing that illegal immigrants make up 14.7 percent of Arizona's prison population.

Now, the first thing that occurs to me is that almost all of the illegal population is concentrated in metro Phoenix and metro Tucson, because that's where the jobs are. That, then, is where most arrests are made. Illegals make up about 10.5 percent of the combined metro population of these two areas.

The second thing I noticed, having gone through the AZ DOC stats, is to determine the percentage of illegals in state prisons on each of the crimes listed. For a substantial number of these, the percentages are significantly less than their percentage of the population, even in many cases less than their percentage of the state population as calculated by Kavanaugh:

Percent of burglary/criminal trespass: 6.1Percent of identity theft: 6.1Percent of theft: 5.8Percent of arson: 4.3Percent of domestic violence 4.3Percent of criminal damage: 3.8Percent of trafficking in stolen property: 1.6Percent of fraud: 1.6

Many other offenses show percentages at or near their percentage of the metro populations.

A few crimes show an unusually high concentration of illegals. I lost some data due to a text editor glitch, but without systematically reconstructing all of the percentages, some of them stand out:

Percent of kidnapping: 40.7Percent of drug offense: 24.7Percent of manslaughter/negligent homicide: 18.9Percent of DUI: 18.0Percent of child/adult abuse: 15.6

Some of these, such as drug offenses, are also responsible for a large absolute number of offenders housed, so they skew the overall percentage of illegals represented as state inmates.

One obvious logical error committed by Kavanagh is to confuse illegal aliens per se with organized crime activities such as human smuggling and drug smuggling, where illegal aliens comprise most drug cartel members and coyotes, but the reverse certainly isn't true.

So, the fact that illegals are overrepresented in state prisons for kidnapping, drug offenses, and abuse of adults/children (just consider the conditions of the typical drop house) doesn't indicate the criminal propensities of illegal aliens in general: it indicates the criminal propensities of career criminals in drug cartels and human smuggling rings, the overwhelming percentage of whom are illegal aliens; but we're still talking about a small number of professional criminals (a tiny percentage of illegal aliens in general) who commit multiple crimes over their career, and we can expect penal statistics to reflect this.

Crimes like DUI aren't amenable to this interpretation. My theory there is that Mexico's attitude toward driving while impaired by alcohol is similar to that of the United States 60 years ago, when DUI driving wasn't considered a public menace except in extreme and obvious cases. This might be one of the few cases where illegals actually are more criminal, but it's simply a question of social norms failing to reflect contemporary American attitudes.

Another idea that occurred to me is that by state law, illegal aliens accused of felony offenses are automatically denied bail. So, we have a situation where individuals are held in terrible conditions in county jail, awaiting trial, for months at a time without possibility of bail, who are considered second-class to begin with (and they know this) and unlikely to receive an even break, and are being pressured all the while to accept a plea deal, which will get them better conditions and which will result in less prison time than they are convinced they will get if they go to trial. That is going to result in an increase in convictions and that is going to result in an increase in illegal prison inmates.

Add to this the fact that many illegals are poor and rely on public legal aid, which is vastly underfunded and overworked, and which despite heroic efforts by some, is not always the most effective form of legal representation. That means more convictions, more individuals urged to plea guilty (since overworked public defenders can only be expected to concentrate on the most egregious cases with the greatest potential for acquittal); and that means more convictions and more illegal inmates.

I've been considering submitting a letter to the editor or perhaps a My Turn editorial, given space restraints on letters. When I saw Mr. Lemons' blog item, I thought I would solicit feedback and further ideas.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Hey! At least they got around to checking some of them. The Typical Az republican tells exactly 250 lies per week.



See how easy that was Russell? You aren't the only one that can do it.

But seriously and this can be verified: Pearce actually told the crowd of teabaggin racists on June 5 that Az should pass a law called honesty in campaigning because he felt his opponents tell lies about him. I guess he's refering to all the easily verifyed facts like his criminal behavior at the DMV before being fired, his ascocaition with neo-Nazi's, his forwarding white supremacist emails, his wife beating, ...etc.


When legislators no longer can vote on journalism school budgets, journalism students may be expected to be impartial.


FB, just wondering if AzFactCheck, needs a fact-check? Maybe they have their own version of Josh Bernstein working there? Time for them to clean house.


Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Emil,Thanks for the thoughtful reseach. It's always a pleasure reading your posts.

SW writer
SW writer

Pearce is such a hypocrite. His big excuse for getting this law passed was because the immigrants were "breaking the law". How many times has Russell Pearce broken the law? Crossing that border is a misdemeanor. Even animal abuse is a felony. But then, I'm quite sure Pearce knows that. I believe this was done to cover Arpaio's butt when he said he would keep on doing what he was doing even when ICE took him and his deputies off their program to arrest immigrants and also at the urging of their probable Neo-Nazi and White Supremacy friends.


I agree with Lemons... it's very unlikely that the journalism student decided final outcome of "inconclusive." AZFactCheck is UNACCOUNTABLE. This is, by no means, the first time it has demonstrated that reality.

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