Russell Pearce's Supporters' Claims of "Massive Voter Registration Fraud" Contradicted by Elections Officials (w/Update)

Will Linda Bentley's bogus allegations save this guy? Not a chance...

As of Monday morning, Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said the county had validated 10,356 signatures from petitions seeking the recall of state Senate President Russell Pearce. 

That's 2,600 more than the 7,756 signatures required by statute from Pearce's Legislative District 18.

But if a recall election is now inevitable, so too are the bogus allegations of massive "fraud" emanating from Pearce's camp. 

Osborne told me that so far, based on what she's seein during the validation process, such characterizations are "inaccurate."

She pointed out that some people have signed the petition more than once, but there's nothing wrong with that, as long as they're signing their own names. 

Indeed, from jump, recall organizer Randy Parraz of Citizens for a Better Arizona has admitted that there will be duplicate John Hancocks.

Anyone familiar with signature-gathering will tell you that duplicates are common. And duplicates are not proof of fraud.

Yet, Pearce and his slavish supporters have no recourse but to press on with their scurrilous claims. So along comes "reporter" Linda Bentley of the Cave Creek-based, far right bi-weekly Sonoran News to aid and abet in the mudslinging and misinformation.

A committed nativist and a die-hard birther despite President Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate, Bentley reveres Pearce. And she did him a big favor by writing her June 15 article, "Pearce Recall Petitions Indicate Massive Voter Registration Fraud." 

As I reveal below, this misstatement of fact masquerading as a headline is actually belied by Bentley's primary example. And yet, her shabbily-reported piece has been effective in telling the wingnuts what they want to hear, truth be damned.

The article has been quoted as fact by several right-wing Web sites, including the Sonoran Alliance and Seeing Red AZ blogs, as well as the sites for the Maricopa County GOP and the Arizona Republican Party

Pearce himself disseminated the inaccurate information by proxy, specifically via e-mail fundraising blasts sent out by the organization Ban Amnesty Now, run by one-time Arizona GOP executive director Sean McCaffrey. 

The Senate President holds the title of "honorary national co-chairman" of B.A.N. Essentially, the non-profit 501(c)4 raises money by sending out insane, wingnut screeds soliciting donations.

In one dated June 22, McCaffrey repeats Bentley's allegations of fraud as if they are written in stone. Problem is, Bentley's main example of this supposed fraud is not fraud at all. 

In fact, Osborne emphatically stated that the main petition-signer Bentley cites, a woman by the name of Benita Lantigua, has done absolutely nothing wrong.

"She did everything she was supposed to do as a citizen," Osborne told me of the Mesa resident, who over the years, has married and divorced a few times, changing her name in the process, but not her physical address.

Osborne said that Lantigua changed her registration to reflect her new names, but that county elections had not consolidated the registrations into one.

"I did have staff research it," said Osborne of the Bentley allegation. "She was on the files on the three positions, but she had never voted in the inappropriate name and had not signed the petition dually."

Did Bentley contact county elections about the matter? Osborne said she has not been contacted directly by Bentley or her paper. She had the item researched after the article's publication.

Nor does Bentley quote any county personnel. If she had contacted the county, she might have discovered that the names had not been consolidated and the woman had done nothing wrong.

Moreover, Bentley apparently did not bother to contact Lantigua, the woman she's maligned. I looked Lantigua up, found her phone number and gave her a call.

Lantigua had not seen the article and was genuinely puzzled by the allegation.

"I only signed once," she said of the petition. "I did not sign it twice."

She freely admitted that she had changed her name because of divorce and remarriage in the past. And county records reflect that she re-registered under her new name when appropriate.

And yet, Bentley identified her by name and by address, suggesting that she had committed fraud. Bentley mentioned other last names Lantigua's had, as well. 

Bentley makes much of the fact that there were three registrations for the same address under different last names, and each was "active."

But Osborne explained that this simply means that the county has sent out three pieces of mail to the home. When nothing comes back, the name stays "active."

There would be possible fraud if Lantigua had voted in the same election under different names, or if she'd signed the petition under different names. 

But this didn't occur, according to Osborne.

Did Bentley choose Lantigua to pick on because of her Hispanic surnames? I don't know, but Bentley does use some coded language implying that some of those who signed were illegal immigrants.

She writes: "There were plenty of other examples of people signing the petition with Latin names who could barely print, let alone sign, claiming a birthplace of Mexico, Guatemala or `Not Provided.'

"Many stated their occupations as `laborer' or, in some instances, as `laborers.'"

Web sites for the Arizona GOP and the Maricopa County GOP reproduced Bentley's false allegation against Lantigua verbatim. 

Seeing Red Arizona gushed effusive praise:

"Ace investigative reporter Linda Bentley has done another bang-up job with her exposé of voter and registration fraud revealed in the Pearce recall petitions."

McCaffrey lists each of Lantigua's past names in his e-mail blast.

I advised Lantigua that she may wish to consult an attorney. And I have sent her the various links to the Web sites involved.

And she's not the only one who could be considering possible legal action over accusations of "fraud." 

Friday, Chad Snow, chairman of the recall effort and himself a lawyer, fired off a letter to Pearce, Ban Amnesty Now, and Pearce's lawyer Lisa Hauser, demanding immediate retractions to the B.A.N. smears. 

Snow wrote:

"It is one thing to call us `open borders extremists', `socialists,' `anarchists,'  the `open borders cartel,' `mafia members,' `thugs' and the like - petty name calling, while unbecoming of a Senate President, is what we have come to expect from you.

"But when you start disseminating information accusing us of `supporting massive voter fraud' and `illegal' activities, you have crossed a line into defamation, which is recognized as a tort in the State of Arizona."

As for Bentley, I can certify from having met her before that she's imbibed deeply of the nativist Kool-Aid, though that's hardly an excuse in this case.

Indeed, should you doubt my assessment, you need only read this latest article by her and observe its glaring inaccuracies, which I have already demonstrated. I can only hope some appropriate legal action will follow.

UPDATE: Just discovered more ammo for Lantigua's lawyer if and when she gets one. Check out this passage from Sonoran News publisher/editor Don Sorchych, based on Bentley's "reporting":

"Bentley found a Mexican woman who has voting rights under three different last names at the same home address. She is likely an illegal also, in which case she has no right to vote. If she is legal, she has a right to vote once, not three times."

http://www.sonorannews.com/archives/2011/110622/myview.html

I called Lantigua with this latest allegation. She informed me that she is a naturalized U.S. citizen, has a U.S. passport, and works at a local bank.

She also says she is considering legal action against the paper.

Bully for her.


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100 comments
Mascafeplease
Mascafeplease

I lived in Cave Creek and had interactions with both Linda Bentley and Don Sorchych.  I found them personable and willing to meet with me when I asked.  But they are both fiercely focused on disparaging, degrading, and condemning undocumented immigrants through any possible angle.  They view the world through a lens that has undocumented immigrants as the source of all that's wrong with our country, state and the town of Cave Creek.  When people hold such strong beliefs the facts simply don't matter.  They cherry pick and exaggerate crumbs of truth, turning them into "solid evidence" that their beliefs are true.  And they discard all evidence to the contrary.  It reminds me of the 9/11 troofers, some of whom are dear friends of mine.  But no amount of evidence contradicting their "inside job" beliefs will shake them.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Can anyone here come up with a single documented case of voter fraud in Arizona?  No? I didn't think so. I can - it happened in Nov. 1880, at the San Simon precinct in what was then Pima County, near the New Mexico line. The election officials were a couple of guys named Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo. Six registered voters produced 104 votes, 103 cast for incumbent sheriff Charlie Shibell and one for challenger Bob Paul. The election results were reversed in district court. Nothing I know of since. This (the unfounded and wild allegations of Ms. Bentley) did NOT voter registration fraud. This is just simply bullshit.

This whole bullshit accusation by Bentley regarding petition signatures is just a red herring. It's all the Pearce people have. Gathering signatures for petitions is a totally...different....process than voting. I know that will be hard for wingnuts to understand. A person gathering signatures for a recall doesn't check voter registration. That's the job of the county election officials who check the signatures from petitions off their records. If the signatures are not valid they don't count. That's why so many signatures were gathered. This will happen in any recall or initiative campaign, regardless of which party or group is conducting it. The issue is is RuSSell Pearce. A cheat, pathological liar, racist, wife beater and corrupt politician who lusts after power for powers'  sake.  And a fat, greedy sleaze who is happy to rake in all the loot he can grab (Fiesta Bowl freebies.)

Jason
Jason

November 1880 huh? Damn. I highly doubt Pearce & Co would've known that. Perhaps that's something to relay to Pearce...

Coz
Coz

After years of attempting to curry favor with elected officials by lavishing them with expensive gifts including out-of-state trips and tickets to sporting events, the Fiesta Bowl now indicates it wants the money back.

The bowl, which is negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service to preserve its non-profit status, is asking 31 politicians to help it determine whether trips and gifts they received "serve the Fiesta Bowl's tax-exempt purposes."

If they cannot, the bowl says, it may ask the politicians to reimburse it for the trips and gifts, an amount that could exceed $154,000.

The bowl late last week sent each of the 31 a detailed letter about the benefits they received during the past decade and any amount they may have repaid. The bowl has asked the politicians to respond by July 15.

As a non-profit organization, the bowl does not have to pay federal or state income taxes.

"These are information letters being sent to let the politicians know what gifts or benefits we are aware of and to obtain additional information from them on whether these are proper expenses," said Nathan Hochman, the bowl's attorney.

In late March, the bowl released results of an internal investigation that exposed widespread misconduct and questionable spending. Since then, it has radically changed its business operations by firing its former chief executive and implementing reforms.

The bowl's research since then concluded that it spent $161,876 on the politicians. So far, those officials have reimbursed the bowl $7,311, it says.

The largest amount spent on any individual was $39,347 on Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who stayed at luxury hotels and took family members with him on bowl-sponsored trips from 2002 to 2009, according to the bowl. Pearce, who did not respond to phone messages or e-mails seeking comment Tuesday, also had the bowl pay for chauffeured car services for him during a 2006 trip in Chicago. Also, the bowl indicated it provided one of his adult sons with expensive tickets to a University of Southern California football game in 2008. Pearce has so far repaid the bowl $1,417.Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizo...

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I think I've seen a number of times where pearce has said, "I've asked the Fiesta Bowl for an invoice and they haven't sent me anything". Ok, now he has an invoice for some $39K. Let's not hold our breath waiting for the check to arrive at the Fiesta Bowl offices anytime soon.

Remember this is the guy who was:

Chief Deputy for MCSO (under the Flaccid Fool): FIRED

Director of Motor Vehicles: FIRED

State Senator, LD 18: FIRED

I think we see a trend here. Is there any chance this guy may not be the best Mormon in town?

nitemarehippygirl
nitemarehippygirl

Let me tell all of you dreamers out there that there is a lot of voter fraud going on. The author reminds me of the teacher that thinks no student would dare to cheat in their class. By the way, I live nowhere near Arizona.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

If voter fraud wasn't rampant in years past there would be no need for election judges and the case of the recall effort, signature verification. Of course there is always going to be those who attempt to be fraudulent, after all we are dealing with humans who have the ability to be cunning, deceitful, manipulative, fraudulent, corrupt, and criminal. But, enough about Pearce and the Flaccid Fool of MCSO.

Yes, Hippy, there is always fraud and there is always the need for a check and balance system. Which is why the Recall Pearce leaders, Mr. Snow and Mr. Parraz, insisted on collecting every possible signature. It was expected there might be those who signed the petition even though they didn't live in LD 18. In fact, it could be suspected that some of the bad signatures were from Pearce supporters and were signed fraudulently with the intent to make it appear there were fraudulent voters trying to get rid of him. The man shouldn't live in a glass house if he is going to chuck stones... eventually, like a good boomerang, they will return to smack his ass, right in the forehead.

Mistalee
Mistalee

For a moment I thought you might be a nightmare hippie girl.

But no, "hippy" means something else entirely.

So hippy it causes nightmares? 

nitemarehippygirl
nitemarehippygirl

A Beck song (not Glenn). I think he spelled it that way, with spaces of course.

Bobby
Bobby

"By the way, I live nowhere near Arizona."

Unfortunately, instead of realizing they might be too close to the problem to be objective, most of the people on this blog will only scoff at outsiders that might see more clearly precisely because they are outsiders.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Show us evidence and how it is happening. 

nitemarehippygirl
nitemarehippygirl

I'm collecting info now. I have some but want to wow them. Will get back to you.

Bobby
Bobby

Don't you mean "libel",Chad? I thought you were a lawyer? Isn't libeling and slandering Sheriff Arpaio, Jan Brewer and others your main hobby?

Bobby
Bobby

NO, voter fraud is not a problem to leftist democrats, that regularly put illegal aliens on the ballots.

Bobby
Bobby

My name is Bobby. Slander?  

Bobby
Bobby

And then who will guide Arizona to this promised land that so many on this blog claim will come about when these people are gone? All I can say is, good luck, if it's the Raul Grijalva types, etc. You'd deserve it.

Jason
Jason

Brewer's done within the next election cycle.

Arpaio will be indicted when Dennis Burke wakes up from behind the wheel.

Thomas will be disbarred in 2 months.

Pearce has been recalled successfully. He more than likely will be booted from office.

Tina
Tina

Thanks for the transcript of that NPR Diane Rehm show.  I listened to it at the time.  Kris Kobach -- elected last Nov to Kansas (not Nebr.) Sec. of State -- and affiliated with the White Supremacist non-profit group F.A.I.R.  has been all over the country for a few years selling his oppressive wares to naive governing bodies and writing laws for them which are continually being struck down, in whole or in part, by the federal courts.  

Non-problems keep people like Linda Bentley, "nitemarehippygirl, "Don Sorchych" and McCaffrey busy writing and uttering quixotic false accusations.  The accusations of already disproved direct (Lantigua) criminal fraud as well as misdirected (towards CBA) criminal fraud I believe are serious matters if they're not retracted.  

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Chad, I totally believe that you are on board with a completely ethical approach to this recall movement.  To do otherwise would be wrong to those of us that believe in honesty, integrity, and the rule of law.  Further, it certainly would be found out and the recall would fail to get out of the gate toward an election.  Certainly, Pearce and his cronies will do anything to avoid the election and if you and your fellow organizers had given them any avenue that even smelled like fraud, they would have already exploited it.  Instead they go public with unofficial allegations of fraud in the press such as the subject article of this blog entry. 

I was just saying that there are probably small pockets of "fraud" in most any election process.  Is it even fraud when a gatherer asks someone at a library to sign a petition that is not in LD 18 and they do so?  Some might say yes and some will say no, but I feel as you do that this is why such petitions are taken very seriously and EVERY signature is verified against a number of tests to assure that the process results in a result that is honest and has integrity. 

Bnbk
Bnbk

I agree with you. Understandable since AZ has the highest per capita rate of millionares in the country. The battle is against big money in this state as is the case in other states. I can tell you that hispanics & other minorities are registering to vote in greater numbers than ever before.I know this because i have personally talked many into registering. We need to take a page out of the movement in wisconsin but i forgot that the so called democratic leaders don't have the guts to stand up to the tyrants that run this state. Goddamit must be dreaming again

Bnbk
Bnbk

I truly believe that the good people of Arizona are fed up with all the shenanigans going on over at the state capitol & this next election cycle will show it. This applies to all the repubinuts & the pussy do nothing democrats that are afraid to stand up to likes of pearce & company.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

And people who commit fraud while gathering signatures on petitions get caught and get busted (Kromko and his nominating petitions.) The system works very well to weed out invalid signatures. So Bentley's accusation is pure, unadulterated bullshit. All you doubters are requested to please provide documented instances of voter fraud or voter registration fraud in Arizona.

Patricia
Patricia

Maybe six?   Voter Fraud was discussed on the Diane Rehm program last week.  Kris Kobach, author of 1070, and Nebraska Sec. of State stated that in Kansas, since 1997 there had been 227 reported cases and six prosecutions.  That averages to 17 reported cases a year, and one prosecution every 2.3 years. http://thedianerehmshow.org/sh...

Voter fraud is another non-problem manufactured by the right wing

Mistalee
Mistalee

You have even bigger problems in Sandland. These right-wing racist lunatics didn't elect themselves, they got in with popular support.

Coz
Coz

Did you hear on the news tonight, its been tabulated that Pearce has accepted over $37,000.00 in benefits from the Festa Bowl committee.

Coz
Coz

Until that happens and politicians like Pearce, Arpaio, Brewer and many others are tossed in the gutter where they belong, Arizona will continue to be a nightmare for those that live here that have a speck of common sense and human decency.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

At least you're smart enough to spout your tinfoil hat wearing slander behind a fake screen name, Bobby.  You should start advising Linda. 

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

The point is, Gerry, that if someone signs a fake name on a petition or signs multiple petitions, that is fraud on their part, not the organizers.  That is why Karen Osborn has her job, to weed out those signatures that are not valid.  As in any petition gathering process, there are going to be those that don't meet the requirements.  But to suggest that the organizers have engaged in "massive election fraud" absent one shred of evidence is libelous.  To slander an innocent U.S. Citizen who is merely exercising her Constitutional rights should underscore what a corrupt politician like Pearce will do to hold on to power. 

I can tell you unequivocally that the organizers of this recall have done everything in our power to make sure the signatures gathered were valid and have followed the letter of the law at every step of the process. 

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

I am not saying we can't have voter fraud or voter registration fraud.  I am sure it exists in some form or another.  However, is it significant enough to swing an election?  I don't know Bobby.  Lots of folks claim it is, but I have yet to see information indicating that it is something that requires extra effort to root out.  For example, this blog entry is one that debunks the theory of "massive voter registration fraud."  Is there some fraud in the Russell Pearce recall?  Probably so.  Did it matter?  Probably not.  But, I don't know and would love to see real information that would tell me one way or the other.

nitemarehippygirl
nitemarehippygirl

Gotcha. Don't know who you are talking about! I had to let off some steam myself and it was easier to do across the country. See ya.

Bnbk
Bnbk

Yea, I'm dreaming. I'm dreaming that one day all these carpetbagger politicians will leave this once great state of Arizona.The damage they have caused will take decades to repair.

nitemarehippygirl
nitemarehippygirl

Look guys, I'm in a sort of delicate situation and have been trying to get info in a roundabout manner, but I guess I'm letting the cat out of the bag now! So I may have to just go and publicly ask for some records. I have about 2000 to check over a couple of years worth of elections. Of course, as noted in the article above some of these are innocent results of not consolidating records and the folks have not voted twice. I'm willing to guess that over 60% have not voted twice. But I know some of them are not innocent and have voted twice. The question is how many?

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

I work off of facts and data with substance to it.  I have not rushed anybody.  I have been waiting for facts for years on many of these issues.  Just like we have been waiting to see  Pearce's cancelled checks that he used to pay back the fiesta bowl.  show me next week.  that is fine.

Bobby
Bobby

Don't expect any of these folks to be "schocked when they see the evidence. Wer'e talking about Russel Pearce here, who is a cross between Hitler and a Teabagger(the word they prefer)to these people.

Bobby
Bobby

Why didn't you give her a few "minutes to get evidence Gerry C.?  "None are so blind as those that refuse to see"--differently (for a while) until the evidence comes in.etc.etc.

Bobby
Bobby

With Gerry C's answer you can see what I mean. Naw, Arizona can't have voter fraud, no way!!

Bnbk
Bnbk

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

Seems Linda has shut up (advice of a lawyer?) 

She might want to keep her car, as with possible lawsuits, as the house and investments are probably gone.

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