Russell Pearce/Olivia Cortes Probe Requested by Ex-LD 18 Candidate

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What did Pearce know about Olivia Cortes' candidacy? And will the Secretary of State's Office heed calls for an investigation?

Below is a letter e-mailed today from Democratic precinct committeeman Robert McDonald to Arizona Elections Director Amy Bjelland requesting an investigation into the ongoing scandal surrounding apparent shill candidate Olivia Cortes, who is "running," if you can call it that, in Legislative District 18 recall of state Senate President Russell Pearce.

McDonald, as some of you may remember, lost a tight race in the LD 18 Democratic primary against Andrew Sherwood for the party's 2010 nomination for state Senate. He goes over much familiar ground in his letter and draws his own conclusions. I am simply presenting it here as a part of the public record.

The letter raises some intriguing allegations. For the record, both Pearce and Cortes have denied they are involved in promoting a sham candidacy.

Nothing, of course, should surprise us. Politics embraces duplicity like an old roue embracing a familiar harlot. That truism goes back even further than the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, for whom falsehood was a tool to be employed like a sharpened dagger.

I'll be eager to read Bjelland's response to this letter. I've asked the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, where Bjelland is employed, for an official statement. And I will post it if and when I receive one.

There's been talk in some circles of filing possible civil suit, perhaps by an LD 18 voter, in order to draw some or all of the players into court. Whether or not this will materialize or if such a suit is even possible, remains to be seen. Though, putting people under oath is a tantalizing prospect.

As I've mentioned before, it is deathly important for the Spanish-language press to shine as much light on the Cortes scandal as possible. All means of informing Latino voters of the truth of what's going on in Mesa should be employed. 

There are less than two months left till November 8. Should Cortes' candidacy affect the outcome of a tight race, I know a lot of people who will permanently ticked off. Including myself.

September 19, 2011

Ms. Amy Bjelland

Election Service Director

State of Arizona

Office of the Secretary of State

Capitol Executive Tower, 7th Floor

1700 West Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007‐2888

Dear Ms. Bjelland:

As a voter and resident of Mesa Legislative District 18, I write this letter to request an investigation into the recall election campaign of Olivia Cortes who is running for the Arizona State Senate and into the group Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall. There are many anomalies present in the way that Ms. Cortes has run her campaign. Some of my concerns, as well as other voters and residents of Mesa, include the signs Ms. Cortes' campaign has posted within Legislative District 18, which do not include any contact information or who had paid for them or any campaign related information. Another concern includes the way Ms. Cortes is funding her campaign. Initially, Ms. Cortes stated that she would be running as a Clean Elections candidate only to fail in returning her $5.00 contributions as required by the Clean Elections Law. Since Ms. Cortes has not had any fundraisers or has solicited any donations how is she funding this campaign? How is she able to afford paid circulars with no campaign funding?

Additional concerns include not making herself available to the media or to anyone wanting to question her about why she wants to run for this office. When her listed address is approached a woman who looks identical to available pictures of Ms. Cortes states she is not available or not at home. Why is she refusing to talk to voters, what is she hiding? I also bring up the concern of the manner of how her petitions were passed out by "volunteer" circulars who were giving misleading information about why Ms. Cortes and the reasons she is running. A video that was recorded during a Legislative District 19 meeting that was held last week shows former Republican LD 19 Chair Pat Oldroyd and Pearce supporter Dan Grimm admitting that they circulated petitions on Ms. Cortes' behalf and then lie about it to the media including the Arizona Capital Times and the Arizona Republic.

Another concern is when she is asked for any volunteer opportunities for her campaign she has stated by a note posted on her door that no help or volunteers are needed. This is completely odd. It is also a concern that Ms. Cortes did not submit her petitions in person but instead had a documented Pearce supporter and current President of the East Valley Tea Party Greg Western submitted those signatures on Ms. Cortes' behalf. Again, this is completely odd. In a taped interview Mr. Western stated that he helped Ms. Cortes with her campaign because "she was in it to win it", however audio from another video tape shows that Mr. Western only helped Ms. Cortes to split the vote in this recall election and Mr. Western's wife is heard stating that he was a proud Russell Pearce supporter. The evidence of fraud both by Ms. Cortes and others in the Arizona Republican Party in Legislative Districts 18 and19 as well as the East Valley Tea Party is overwhelming.

As you may be well aware Citizens for a Better Arizona has stated publicly that they suspect Ms. Cortes is a sham candidate recruited by the Pearce campaign and by Matt Tolman's Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall and the East Valley Tea Party. As an elected precinct committeeman for Maricopa County, I do not and cannot speak for Citizens for a Better Arizona but I do share their concerns that Ms. Cortes is a sham candidate being used by the anti‐recall effort to thwart a legally binding and legally obtained recall election against Sen. Pearce by qualified voters in Mesa Legislative District 18. I also will add that it is not a stretch to possibly implicate Sen. Pearce in this fraud being committed with his knowledge and in his name by close friends and supporters despite his denials to the contrary

The conduct being used by the anti‐recall effort is outrageous, irresponsible, and most definitely criminal. The evidence is way too substantial and documented to be a coincidence. Some of the evidence that has been made publicly against the group Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall include posting signs that are in violation of election laws by not stating contact information and attacking a private citizen who is not a political candidate in this recall election.

Also it is documented that the anti‐recall effort has been posting blatant lies and misinformation on the internet even to the point of opening up a fake Twitter account that claimed to be from one of the opponents in this recall.

I write this letter because I am fed up with this conduct. I am upset and disappointed that the anti‐recall effort is trying anything and everything to scuttle this legal election and denying the people a right to say who will represent them in the Arizona State Senate.

I have reason to believe that Ms. Cortes is committing election fraud by being a sham candidate. I further believe that Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall and the East Valley Tea Party is also committing election fraud by recruiting Ms. Cortes to run in this election to split the vote and allow Sen. Pearce to remain in office. I further more believe that Sen. Russell Pearce has direct knowledge of this fraud and is approving it with his silence on the matter.

I understand that these are serious charges that I mount but I believe that they are correct just based on the documentation, the videos shot, and personal experiences. This is why I am asking for an investigation into Olivia Cortes, Matt Tolman and Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall, the East Valley Tea Party, and Mr. Greg Western and Sen. Russell Pearce for the crimes of election fraud, campaign finance violations and other criminal and civil violations that your office may find.

Thank You for your cooperation in this matter.

Most sincerely,

Robert Hernandez McDonald Jr. (D‐Mesa)

Mesa 031 Precinct Committeeman


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57 comments
Banphotoradar
Banphotoradar

Nice letter, Robert. Hope you are well. Stacey from Camerafruad.

Dammit Russell
Dammit Russell

Pearce, so hates Mexicans being in the state but he is using one to keep from being booted from office! Isn't it Ironic?

Fed up in LD18
Fed up in LD18

I'd like to know where the cowardly Democratic Party is on this issue. Why is a PC doing this challenge when it could come from the state party's attorneys? Chicken shits. No wonder no one thinks they have a spine.  Maybe Kyrsten Sinema could write a love letter to Pearce explaining why this isn't nice, since she vouched for him on the Jay Lawrence Show on the budget on Sunday.

At least people in LD18 have some balls. If they had to leave it to the state and county party offices, they'd be totally screwed.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I look at the story photo used here and I keep imagining a red dot in the very middle of his forehead.

I think this photo might have been taken at the park earlier this summer when the Goober Party got together and threw their support behind pearce when he was being recalled. Maybe 50 of the Goobers actually showed up. And then there was the Goober Delight Party of pearce, the Flaccid Fool, Kavanaugh, Wright (former mayoral hopeful) and similar yojos. If I recall correctly there were more MCSO employees there for protection; than supporters.

Coz
Coz

Roberts letter pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Now lets use the same hammer to hit Pearce and his low life's in the head.

Josh Barkley
Josh Barkley

Now that's throwing it down!  No Holds barred.  I have nothing to add to this article or Mr Mcdonald's letter.  Nice job, Gentlemen.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

I would speculate that Olivia Cortes is walking along the line of fraud with her campaign financing.  If she is taking advice from Pearce that the "law is on her side," she should consider that Pearce said that "the law is on my side" when 1070 went into litigation to score an injunction and again when his recall was challenged only to be wrong on both cases.  Pearce confidently predicts each time that things will come out the way he wants and is often disappointed / pushed back. 

If Olivia is breaking the law or others are breaking the law to support Russell Pearce, then I would be pretty concerned about personal peril if I were in her shoes.  Will Russell be there to rescue her when she is called to account for criminal actions?  Or will she simply be disposed of as "someone that should have known better to break the law in challenging King Russell"?

If I were Olivia, I would be very careful.  These things could haunt her for months or years if a political investigation gets started.  Might be a good time to get straight with the law. 

Mistalee
Mistalee

The question that is the most likely fodder for an investigation is this - who is financing her campaign in the absence of reported donations. The signs aren't posting themselves.

Jason
Jason

Let's hope Secretary of State Ken Bennett has a brain with at least 2 brain cells to rub together and actually call for an investigation into Pearce and Pearce shill Cortes.

Should it be determined that Pearce is helping Cortes run a sham campaign, Lewis should automatically win.  

Vera Kwaayesnama Skorupski Sko
Vera Kwaayesnama Skorupski Sko

The only thing I see missing is the fraud perpetrated by the petition canvassers stating that Olivia Cortes is an attorney. If she is not this was deliberate fraud and I would take exception with the legitimacy the petitions these people circulated.

Ideas
Ideas

How many citizen signatures would it take for arpaio to investigate. 250 got him on Obama birth cert case.

RussellPearceWatch
RussellPearceWatch

Putting people under oath would make no difference. They play with words. Here is a hypothetical scene...Prosecutor: "Do you know Olivia Cortes?" Russell Pearce: "I do not know the woman." (Pearce is thinking: in a biblical sense) Prosecutor: "Do you have any knowledge of Olivia Cortes being a straw candidate?"Russell Pearce: "I have no knowledge." (Pearce is thinking: I don't have knowledge, I have directly orchestrated the whole thing, but he didn't ask me that!)Prosecutor: "Were you aware that Franklin B. Ross, the plaintiff in the case to stop the recall, was a petition circulator and signer of Olivia Cortes' petitions." Russell Pearce: "I was not aware." (Pearce is thinking: It depends on what you mean by aware.)And it would go on and on. Any subject, any day...Fiesta Bowl tickets, JT Ready association, private prison industry connections, domestic violence, his educational background (or lack of it), education, business, etc.He needs to retire...

Truth to Power
Truth to Power

I like the idea of putting them all under oath. That would be worth taking a day off of work to see in person.

Stacy
Stacy

Good letter... lets hope it gets some traction.  

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

You mean a little red dot like women from India might wear.

Robert Hernandez McDonald Jr.
Robert Hernandez McDonald Jr.

Thank you! you all should be on the look out for my guest commentary on Wednesday or Friday where I let the pro Pearce people have it.

Coz
Coz

You can bet your ass that id shit hits the fan over Olivia Cortes and she is brought up on criminal charges, Pearce will be nowhere to be found.

He will slide back under a rock like the snake he is.

mirele
mirele

Follow the money!

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Exactly.  On wonders if the Russell Pearce camp is funding her.  Or the Republican party.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Good point, but they are signing the petition and what is written on the petition.  Verbal fraud is evil, but part of the petition process.  Now if a large group was told that, there might be a spirit claim.

Not surprised
Not surprised

Wasn't it just a single call from Bill Crawford that got Arpaio to go meet with Scottsdale residents regarding alleged noise problems with the downtown entertainment district?

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

"He needs to retire..."  This puts the action on Pearce.

Actually, WE need him to retire and WE should retire him.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Putting them under oath is like giving them a polygraph exam, it only works on honest people. Some of those folks may very well be pathological liars, in which case they actually believe the manure they spew incessantly. That said, if JUST one of them is honest enough to even give half truths under oath, the rest would be hiking in deep kimchi...

Steve Muratore
Steve Muratore

The letter has some good points in it, but also has extraneous issues that likely cannot be supported. One might hope that the defects in McDonald's claims do not subvert the legitimate issues.

Tina
Tina

cacrobert,Sorry, I got screen names confused.  My post and its refererences were meant for "cannondax" (not you) who had posted on the previous article reporting on the Cortes sham at the LD 19 Repub. meeting.

Tina
Tina

I look forward to reading your guest commentary.  On Lemons'  previous article about the Cortes sham, you provided much insight into the personality of Olivia Cortes, timid and quiet, mentioning that you've known her for 20 years.  You also referenced her emailed replies to Stephen Lemons' questions just before he wrote his first blog a few weeks ago about the Cortes candidacy.  She then denied having any connection with the "Pearce camp."Your take on her emailed replies was that she did not write them, that they were written by someone else.  If you go back to that article, you can see that others felt the same thing, even though those commenters likely didn't know her as you do. After that she refused to return calls or answer any questions by the news media about her goals, her platform, her reasons for running, etc.,  after repeated attempts by both the Arizona Republic and New Times.   Until Aug. 25, that is.  On Wed. Aug. 24, recall organizer Randy Parraz held a news conference wherein he alleged that Cortes actually supported Pearce and is trying to dilute the anti-Pearce vote in the recall.   Republic reporter Gary Nelson contacted her and asked if Parraz'  allegations were true.  Ah hah,  she actually sent an email to Nelson and responded as follows:"I have never met Mr. Parraz and he has never met me, but I would appreciate it if he would stop trying to muscle or scare me out of this race.  I live in LD 18 and believe I have something to offer the voters.  Mr. Parraz does not live in our district and he should  stop interfering with our elections."Obviously she didn't answer the question, and didn't deny the allegation as she did with Lemons,  but since you've known her and her personality for so long, do you think that her email to the reporter was composed by her?  Or do you suspect that this too was written by someone else? Would appreciate your take on this email,  her last communication to the media.    

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Exactly.  She will be discarded as if she is Pearce's latest cheeseburger wrapper.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Gerry, any man with an ounce of respect for himself, and his constituents, would have already resigned his seat; having been legally recalled.

Obviously pearce has no respect.

JesusHChrist
JesusHChrist

The main thing is that people are beginning to ask election officials for some action. The letter makes a lot of valid points. Here's a Q: Why hasn't the state Democratic Party asked for an investigattion?

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

More fundamentally Tommy, any man with an ounce of respect for anybody or for the rule of law would not behave as Russell Pearce does. 

By the way, on the Jerry Lewis Facebook page someone found a chart of the fiesta bowl gifts.  I think it is posted on the wall still.  It shows Pearce has sacrificed nearly twice as much as the next closest legislator for the fiesta bowl.  Can you imagine sitting through all those football games just so your state economy does not collapse.  Let's see Olivia do that.  She won't hardly come out of her house.  Do we expect her to fly all over to watch games for us? 

teknik1200
teknik1200

they aren't really even bible thumpers, they just pander to them for their vote.   there are enough ill-informed bible thumpers out there that it gives them a sea of easily manipulated voters.

Jason
Jason

I actually saw one of those Parraz signs the other day at Broadway and Power.

Note to Pearce and his gang of slimy miscreants: Power and Broadway is LD19. We don't want to be exposed to your corruption and abuse of power over here. We put up with it enough. Do us all a favor and resign Senator Pearce. You stand no chance against Jerry Lewis.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

And that is specifically why Olivia Cortes is in the race.  People don't like Pearce, but don't know who to vote for.

Tina
Tina

I actually had someone, who I thought was informed, ask me last week, "Who else is running besides Randy Parraz?"  The large words on the defamatory signs, "Candidates" "Recall" and "Randy Parraz,"  definitely have the desired effect of confusing voters. 

Those abominable signs also violate the state law that requires ALL "political signs" to support or oppose a ballot measure or support or oppose a candidate.   Mesa has the authority to remove them or demand their removal for that reason alone.

Those signs might just backfire on Pearce, when a misinformed voter enters the voting booth and doesn't see "Randy Parraz" on their ballot. "Well, I ain't voting for Pearce, I'll vote for one of the others."

Vic
Vic

I would like to see a blitz of private citizens in LD18 write complaint letters to the AZ elections director, asking for an investigation.  I am sending one today in regards to the Parraz poster signs that are still up in my neighborhood as I feel that the signsare for the sole purpose of confusing us voters.

JesusHChrist
JesusHChrist

You're right that there are no Dem candidates, but in a recall, party affiliations are not listed on the ballot. Dems certainly would be voting too. There's enough there for someone associated with the Dems to ask 4 and investigation.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

You'd think that if the Republican Party had even 1/100th of the integrity they had back when they were actually Conservatives, they would call for this investigation on their own.  Back in the day everybody bad-mouthed Goldwater when they wanted to badmouth the Republican Party, but I'd kill to have THOSE Republicans back right about now.

This new breed is as slimy and two-faced as they can possibly get. A bunch of Bible Thumpers hijacking a political party in America, what a sad state of affairs. When we only have a 2 party system, and one party is THIS corrupt, it's hard to stay an Independent...

ArizonaEagletarian
ArizonaEagletarian

I don't speak for the Democratic Party, so I'd only be guessing. But this recall is not about a Democratic official and there is no Democratic candidate, so I would find it peculiar if they did take a position on this issue.

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