Russell Pearce "Opponent" Olivia Cortes' Purpose to "Dilute" the Vote, Say Signature Gatherers (w/Update)

1315532736_shillone.jpg
A lady calling herself Suzanne, gathering signatures for Olivia Cortes

Stealth recall candidate Olivia Cortes may not want to answer her phone or come to her door, but on Thursday there were paid petition circulators soliciting signatures for her at the main branch of the Mesa public library. 

These individuals are informing skeptical pro-Russell Pearce signers that getting Cortes in the race will help split the vote in favor of the state Senate President in the upcoming November 8 recall election.

I stopped by the main branch of the Mesa library this afternoon, and was asked to sign a petition to put Cortes' name on the ballot by a woman who said her name was Suzanne. 

Suzanne told me she was working for a woman who showed up later and identified herself to me as Diane Burns, with a company called Petition Pros.

When Suzanne asked if I lived in LD 18, I fibbed and said I did. She then asked if I was a Russell Pearce supporter. So I told an even bigger fib, and said yes.

"Then you want to sign this," Suzanne told me. "The whole purpose of getting her on the ballot is to dilute the vote so that [Pearce] stays in."

She's not running on her own behalf, I asked incredulously?

"She's running on her own," the woman said. "But the whole purpose is to split the vote. So that everyone who [is] against [Pearce] will vote for two people instead of one, and that way [Pearce] will get the most votes."

Though I'd been tipped off that the petition circulators for Cortes were at the library, I don't think I would have believed they would be so brazen, unless I'd heard the pitch myself.

This same woman made a similar pitch to others, though other times she made no pitch at all, just asking for someone's signature. A man identifying himself as Doug later showed up to help Suzanne. 

"He wants Russell Pearce to win," Suzanne told Doug, who said he was with the Cortes campaign. "And I told him that was the whole purpose of her getting on the ballot, to split the vote."

"Is that the purpose of it?" I asked Doug.

"In every campaign, both sides try to run candidates to try to manipulate the vote," he explained, matter-of-factly.

Can't say that I know of Lewis's "side" doing likewise, though as I let them try to convince me to sign, I didn't argue with them. 

Before I finally identified myself as a reporter and gave them my card, they both stated that the Pearce campaign knew nothing of this dilution-strategy. Doug told me that he and other generous souls were just spontaneously helping out, by paying for Burns' services.

Doug varied his pitch to library-goers, sometimes advocating Cortes as sort of a middle ground between Pearce challenger Jerry Lewis and Pearce, other times offering her candidacy as a plus for Pearce.

shill3.jpg
Cortes petitions: Vote-dilution in the making?

Burns, a middle-aged lady with white hair came along later, apparently to collect the petition sheets, which are due Friday at the Arizona Secretary of State's Office by 5 p.m. I asked her if they had the required 621 signatures, but she clammed up as soon as she found out who I was.

Earlier Suzanne told me that the drive didn't have enough signatures yet. However, I know she told another individual that they did have 621, but wanted to get more as a cushion.

Adding to all this weirdness was the fact that Burns at one point asked Doug if he was going to see "Constantin" later on. I immediately asked if she meant pro-Pearce GOP operative Constantin Querard. Burns wouldn't say anything. I asked Doug if Querard was assisting the Cortes effort. He hemmed and hawed, then talked up Querard's status as a political whiz.

After getting back to my office, I e-mailed Querard, asking if he was helping Cortes out. Haven't gotten a reply as of yet. I've reached out to Cortes as well, and will update this blog if she has a response.

Doug also told me that Pearce "knew" Cortes, and had no problem with her running.

Aren't you being dishonest with people, I wondered of Doug, pitching for Cortes as an actual candidate, when all info seems to indicate she's a plant? (For the record, Cortes denied this allegation in answers to questions of mine submitted via e-mail.)

"She's not a candidate yet," he offered. "She might not even get on the ballot."

Suddenly, some old dude, a pro-Pearce fella signing the petition, advised me, "You're getting the cart before the horse."

I'm surprised he didn't call me, "sonny" or "whipper-snapper."

Other Mesa residents identifying themselves as pro-Pearce signed the petition, after being told that Cortes' name on the ballot would ultimately assist the embattled state Senator.

I'm kind of amazed at how bald-faced the petition circulators were about their actions. But I recorded all of the conversations we had, to be on the safe side, and snapped a few images with my cell phone.

Who are these people and where is the money coming from to pay for the signature-gatherers and the signs? 

That is unclear, despite Doug's admission regarding Petition Pros. But we're sure to know more after tomorrow, assuming Cortes submits her petition sheets, which should have the full names of the gatherers on the back.

UPDATE 9/9/11: Democrat Andrew Sherwood, who ran against Pearce in 2010, has posted a recording to his Facebook page of a conversation between a Cortes petition circulator and a woman pretending to be pro-Pearce. Check it out, here. Sounds like the same woman I spoke with.

My Voice Nation Help
59 comments
Tuchico
Tuchico

How much money is Russell Pearce paying this stupid prostitute?   Olivia I bet your relatives feel very proud of you.

Ross
Ross

So Greg turns out to be Greg Western, chairman of the East Valley Tea Party and a Mormon, who shows up with nearly 1,200 petition signatures and, after some reluctance, admits that he will vote for Cortes. 

Let's hope the rest of the Pearce diehards vote for her, too. 

douglasf
douglasf

Here's a link for Larry Wendt's saloon that is hosting the Pearce Rally with Arpaio next week...

http://preview.tinyurl.com/3rn...

Let owner Larry Wendt know how "we" feel about him supporting such a slimy dirty-tricks politico!

Ross
Ross

Wendt used to run the jail for Arpaio.  Former deputies have to help each other out.

Jason
Jason

So didn't Pearce. He created Tent City.

Ross
Ross

Are there any real-life examples of where such a technique has worked?  I can see where it might make a difference if 50% of the votes is required to win election; an extra candidate or two would cause a runoff.  But in a special election like this, with only one office on the ballot, how many ignorant voters are going to turn out anyway?  And wouldn't Pearce receive more of the ignorant vote, than Lewis?

Are Pearce opponents trying to take the gun away from him before he shoots himself in the foot?

US War Veteran
US War Veteran

"And wouldn't Pearce receive more of the ignorant vote"

Well that's exactly how pearce, brewer, horne, huppenthal, and arpaio got elected for office, the ignorant vote puts them in office and the ignorant vote keeps them there.

Jason
Jason

I knew that Cortes was a Pearce shill, helping to dilute the vote and help Pearce win.

Welcome Jerry Lewis.

Jewel in the desert
Jewel in the desert

Has anyone contacted the local news outlets?  This video really needs to be seen by a lot more people.

Tina
Tina

Jewel,  I can't find any "video" from this article.  Where is it?However, at 4:30 pm today (Friday), NPR Radio gave a report on this Olivia Cortes/Russell Pearce sham and what occurred at the Mesa library yesterday.  Andrew Sherwood (who was the Dem running against Pearce last November) provided them with a recording, which NPR played for listeners, of the female petitioner "explaining" that signing the Cortes petition would help Russell Pearce because it would split the vote of anti-Pearce voters, etc.

Tonight on Horizon (which I'll have to watch again) this matter was also brought up on Journalists' Roundtable, and the name Greg Western was mentioned as Cortes'  campaign manager.  Western is a name I'd remembered from the comment on an earlier  PNT article about Cortes from (I think) commenter Susurro Perforado.  Greg Western is a tea party neighbor of Olivia Cortes, who knew her to be a Pearce supporter and supposedly was the person who contacted Jesse Hernandez who then set up the scam operation with Cortes. (Greg Western is listed in the phone book,  as is Cortes, and they ARE neighbors.)  One of the journalists -- I think Howard Fischer -- mentioned having a contact with Western, but didn't get much out of him.  Fischer also said that Cortes filed 1100 signatures right at the five o'clock deadline today "twice as many as needed."

Mel
Mel

ARS 16-1006. Changing vote of elector by corrupt means or inducement; classificationA. It is unlawful for a person knowingly by force, threats, menaces, bribery or any corrupt means, either directly or indirectly:1. To attempt to influence an elector in casting his vote or to deter him from casting his vote.2. To attempt to awe, restrain, hinder or disturb an elector in the free exercise of the right of suffrage.3. To defraud an elector by deceiving and causing him to vote for a different person for an office or for a different measure than he intended or desired to vote for.B. A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a class 5 felony.

wtf
wtf

Stephen, Please keep reporting on this Cortez lady until everyone in LD 18 knows who she is so nobody votes for her! 

Funny thing would be if she gets more votes than Pearce

wtf
wtf

Talk about voter fraud...hahahahaha!!! now this is what i call voter fraud even as legit as it could be... only in Fucking nut Arizona!....

Stephen you should call or email Bentley so she can write a real story about voter fraud.

Lisa Hoffman
Lisa Hoffman

Russell Pearce. They guy who brags about protecting us from voter fraud. Make Arizona safe. Get Russell Pearce off the streets!

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Not that the signature gatherer really knows anything, but she stated two or three times that if the anti Russell vote is not split, that Russell will likely lose. 

Coz
Coz

This just once again show how dishonest, corrupt and scared Pearce is.

What a douche-bag Pearce is.

Jason
Jason

That description (dishonest, corrupt, and scared) fits all elected Arizona politicians to a T. I'm beginning to think we'd be better electing bricks to represent us. 

"This just once again shows how dishonest, corrupt and scared Pearce is."

Tina
Tina

Jason, I wouldn't go so far as to say "all."  

Mistalee
Mistalee

Very good. It's time for a "Bricks, not pricks" campaign.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

What about the 'rule of law'

ambujam
ambujam

Diane Burns was arrested outside of the Target in Fountain Hills for continually trying to collect signatures to recall Ginny Dickey.  Diane is a menace.

Ross
Ross

ARS 16-1006. Changing vote of elector by corrupt means or inducement; classification

A. It is unlawful for a person knowingly by force, threats, menaces, bribery or any corrupt means, either directly or indirectly:

1. To attempt to influence an elector in casting his vote or to deter him from casting his vote.

2. To attempt to awe, restrain, hinder or disturb an elector in the free exercise of the right of suffrage.

3. To defraud an elector by deceiving and causing him to vote for a different person for an office or for a different measure than he intended or desired to vote for.

B. A person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a class 5 felony.

US War Veteran
US War Veteran

Too bad no County or even State agency is going to do anything about it, specially the Arizona AG, we need to go to the Feds with this.

Tina
Tina

Oh my God!   Thanks for digging that one out.  I wonder where it goes from here.  

guest
guest

It is a politician breaking the law and in arizona this is grounds NOT to prosecute them. This state is politically the most bass ackwards in the country. I am embarrased and ashamed to be from arizona and wish I could find a job so that I could afford to move. Hell, I left Nyc after wtc and now it seems safer to be there than here. Btw, I lived here before I lived in nyc.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

It's time to remove Pearce from office. All can see how systemic and deep the corruption in the state of Arizona is and who has sold the people down the drain. It's time for all those who have been split and divided by the politicos, to come together to elect Jerry Lewis.

Susurro Perforado
Susurro Perforado

Malinche traicionera.  Enganadora.  Verguenza.  Olivia, are you honest in all your dealings?  Nope.  Your willingness to deceive voters is a disgrace.  All I've seen from camp Pearce is lies and distortions, one after another.

Maestramadremia
Maestramadremia

Look what happened the last time we trusted Cortes(z)

Mistalee
Mistalee

You forgot "vendida." She is a total sell-out.

efg3
efg3

If you really want Lewis to win  Donate a few bucks to him,at his website.

Ross
Ross

When I donated to the Mecham Recall Committee, I received a full-color printed certificate, suitable for framing.  So what do I get when I contribute to the Lewis campaign?

Tina
Tina

You get gratification and better government if he wins, which can't be matched with anything tangible you can hold in your hand. 

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Ross, it's not so much what you will receive, but what you will no longer have, pearce...

American voter
American voter

Simply because you asked, i'd give you a swift kick in the as.s.

If you look at it this way you are no better than lobbyists who pay to get corrupt politicians to play the way they want them to.

The political process and your duty as an american should simply be supporting what you think is right not because of what you can get out of the deal.

If this was an attempt at being facetious you have failed on that front as well

Ross
Ross

Gee, not even a bumper sticker.  Sorry I asked. 

Rob
Rob

If I was really, really serious about collecting signatures from Pearce supporters, a library would be the last place I'd go.

Bars at 2:10am; Bashas' on Senior Citizen day; WifeBeaters weekly lunch social; PLEA headquarters; local Klan hall...those would be the places I'd pitch my tent.

Not sure how many of those are still open for business in LD18 though.

Rob
Rob

If memory serves correct, petitions usually run around 60% of the signatures deemed invalid.I'm pretty sure that's around where the recall drive came in.

Ms Cortes is going to need 1000 signatures to give herself a chance of getting on the ballot.  As quickly as the Pearce recall petitions were counted and verified, I'm thinking Amy Bjelland and her staff will knock this out during their first smoke break Monday morning.

Rob
Rob

Oh wait...my apologies.

That is if Lisa Hauser, Franklin Ross and Matt Tolman are not so appalled at someone daring to challenge Mr Pearce that they don't contest Ms Cortes petitions.

Tina
Tina

Pearce lawyer Hauser, Pearce proxy-plaintiff Ross, and Pearce campaign committee chairman Tolman should all be questioned (by Lemons maybe? or any other reporter) if this isn't reason enough to challenge "competing senatorial candidate"  Cortes' petition signatures.  After all, it just stands to reason.....    (Barf)

Bobunf
Bobunf

Running a fake candidate, a fake twitter account, illegals and absurd signs, continuous name calling.  

All more reasons why Pearce should be defeated.

Olivia should be very much ashamed of what's she is allowing Pearce to use her for.  

Anon
Anon

As history has shown, there are always those women who enjoy being used by powerful men... some CALL THEM wh----s.

Anon
Anon

As history has shown, there are always those women who enjoy being used by powerful men... some call the wh----s.

US War Veteran
US War Veteran

Mr. Lemons,

Great piece of reporting, I am sure the FBI will want to know this, afterall voter fraud although rampant in Arizona is still a crime.

Seedy Ward
Seedy Ward

I thought only Democrats perpetrated voter fraud?

Mistalee
Mistalee

With your first two words you have already lied.

Stacy
Stacy

That's a clear case of voter deception.  Normally this should be reported to the Secretary of State who in turn has the duty to report it to the AG. ...but in this case the complaing won't go anywhere, so I recommend that the DOJ Voting Rights Division receive a complaint.Here is info for recording a voting or election concern:

Email concerns here: Voting.Section@usdoj.gov NOTE: Don't forget to mention that the Sec. of State and the AG are in the pockets of Russell Pearce ( in case they wanna kick you to protocol to complain the way mentioned above )

Deliveries by overnight express service such as Airborne, DHL, Federal Express or UPS should be addressed to:

The Section can be reached by telephone: (202) 514-6255 or toll-free at (877) 218-5228.

Chief, Voting SectionT. Christian Herren, Jr.

Civil Rights Division

Room 7254 - NWB

Department of Justice

1800 G St., N.W.

Washington, DC 20006

Or snail mail..Special Litigation Section

U.S. Department of Justice

Civil Rights Division

950 Pennsylvania Avenue,

NWSpecial Litigation Section

Washington, D.C. 20530

Anon
Anon

well done. will do.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...