Anti-Russell Pearce Group Sends LD 18 Mailer, Fails to Register with Secretary of State (w/Updates)

CUP222resize.jpg
With "friends" like these...

In what looks like a less-than-smooth move by Democrats someone apparently attempting to help Republican Jerry Lewis' challenge of state Senate President Russell Pearce in the Legislative District 18 recall, a group incorporated as "Citizens United for Progress" has sent out pro-Lewis, anti-Pearce mailers without registering first with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. (Note: See addendum below.)

The mailers announce that "Olivia Cortes Is No Longer a Candidate for Senate," and then go on to diss Pearce and praise Lewis at length. 

The Arizona Corporation Commission lists local attorney Steven A. Hirsch as the statutory agent for the group. Hirsch, a partner with the law firm Bryan Cave, has donated money to Democratic candidates heretofore.

Today, state Elections Director Amy Chan sent out a letter to Hirsch asking for more information about CUP and telling Hirsch the group needs to register as an independent expenditure committee with the AZ SOS, in order to get right with the law. 

You can see the letter and the mailers, here.

"We're looking for them to come into compliance before we refer [the matter] to the [Arizona Attorney General's] office," SOS spokesman Matt Roberts informed me.

Via e-mail, he added, "Quite often these groups forget to register or file their notifications with our office."

Though I appreciate the effort to inform voters on the one hand, on the other, this is the last thing those opposed to Pearce need in the media at the moment.

First off, not registering with the SOS is a misstep that Pearce and right-wing blogs supporting him will use to cloud the issue of Olivia Cortes' sham candidacy and the Pearce camp's other shenanigans in the race.

Second, calling it "Citizens United for Progress," and giving it a Tempe mailing address is equally misguided. 

I've received e-mails from pro-Lewis Republicans in Mesa describing the mailer in general and complaining that this is just the sort of thing that's red meat for Pearce loyalists.

The word "progress" alone is anathema to GOPers schooled by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. And the Tempe address will add fuel to Pearce's contention that "outsiders" are supporting Lewis.

Pearce spoke of this mailer in passing on KTAR 92.3 FM's Jay Lawrence Show Sunday night, and the mailer earned a mention by one speaker at a pro-Pearce rally Friday evening, held at a Mesa baseball stadium.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to help defeat Pearce in LD 18. It's a cause that Arizonans of all political stripes can get together on.

And as IE's cannot coordinate with a candidate's campaign, perhaps Hirsch and CUP's director Justin Tash were not clued in to the realities of recall politics in Mesa.

Nevertheless, they should know better than to hand the Pearce camp a political blunderbuss with just 22 days to go before Election Day. It wouldn't surprise me one iota to see this incident turned into a TV attack ad aimed at Lewis. 

It behooves us all to think before acting in the current conflict. Use your brains, people. And keep your eyes on the prize: Pearce's permanent exile from Arizona politics.

Addendum: Given that things are not always as they appear in this recall election, I should take some of my own advice, and not "assume," because, well, you know the rest of that ditty.

I put in a call to Mr. Hirsch, but have yet to hear back from him. Also, just because he's given to Dems in the past doesn't necessarily explain his motives here.

Nor do I yet know anything about Justin Tash or his motives.

The state and county Dems have generally kept the recall at arms length. And for good reason. 

Could the mailers be a ploy by pro-Pearce forces? I guess anything's possible, though I think it would be strange for them to remind voters that Cortes is not a candidate, despite her name still being on the ballot.

Also the anti-Pearce info on the fliers seems played pretty straight to be a Pearce ploy. Ditto the pro-Lewis info. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

In any case, more when I get it.

UPDATE OCTOBER 19, 2:12PM: The address listed above for Citizens United for Progress is a UPS box at the ASU Campus. A UPS rep told me that the Lemon Street location does accept mail for CUP.

There is a Justin Tash listed as an undergrad at ASU, and I have sent him an e-mail asking to speak with him.

I spoke with attorney Steven Hirsch, who said he will be representing CUP in regards to the letter sent out by the SOS. He said he didn't know a Justin Tash, and that he had been approached by someone else for help in setting up CUP as a 501c4 non-profit.

Hirsch said he could not give me the name of the person who secured his services, but that he would ask his client if they wished to talk with me.

I'll update this post further when I have more to report.

UPDATE OCTOBER 20, 5:39PM: The Associated Press has reported that the SOS has referred an issue regarding one of the mailers sent out by CUP to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

SOS spokesman Matt Roberts told me just now that the SOS is concerned that one mailer, announcing that Olivia Cortes is no longer an official candidate, is deceptively labeled and made to look as if it came from Maricopa County Elections.

They have a point, though, in general, I don't see anything wrong with advising LD 18 voters that Cortes has pulled out. Actually, though neither county elections nor the SOS is required to mail out such a statement, I believe they should as Cortes' name being on the ballot is itself deceptive.

Nevertheless, these mailers are slippery on several levels. Roberts said the SOS has yet to receive a reply on its letter of inquiry to CUP attorney Steven Hirsch.

As Oblivious Cortex recently pointed out below, the Arizona Republic has reported that Hirsch is involved in another organization, American Citizens United, which has been accused of similar shenanigans on behalf of Phoenix GOP mayoral candidate Wes Gullett.

That matter has also been turned over to the AG's office by the SOS. 

Perhaps Hirsch, or whoever he's working for, is baiting a legal challenge to what non-profits can and cannot do. I just wish he'd have stuck to pro-Gullett efforts. Gullett is going to lose, big time. I could care less what some group does for him.

But I take the Lewis-Pearce election personally, and I'd prefer it if the sleaze in that race remains on Pearce's side of the fence.

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28 comments
Tina
Tina

Stephen, thanks for the latest update.  Here's something else. 

On the SOS website, under Elections and Campaign Finance, there is a column that lists all 93 Independent Expenditure campaign organizations, in alphabetical order,  that are lawfully registered with the SOS.  

This morning's Republic article about Arizona Citizens United endorsing Phoenix mayoral candidate Gullett  states, "Arizona Citizens United filed as an independent-expenditure organization with the CITY in August, days before early voting started and ran mailers and ads featuring Wes Gullett in a positive light...."  Yet it is the Arizona Secretary of State (not the city) who "has asked the state attorney general to investigate whether a group that has spent more than $100,000 backing Wes Gullett for mayor and opposing others for City Council violated STATE campaign finance laws."

Two days ago State Election Director Amy Chan's letter to attorney Steven Hirsch of Citizens United for Progress -- the same attorney who represents Arizona Citizens United -- described mailers their organization had allegedly send LD 18 voters, and just said that they were legally required to register the organization with the SOS.  No response, no action.  

Even though BOTH Arizona Citizens United and Citizens United for Progress never registered their independent expenditure campaign committees with the Secretary of State's office as required by law, now the SOS wants the AG to investigate the latter because it did what the Secretary of State & County Recorder should have done and refused to do -- officially notify voters that Cortes is not a candidate although her name remains on the ballot.  

I didn't receive any of CUP's mailings, but if the reproduction here of the "Olivia Cortes is no longer a candidate for senate" mailing is an accurate reproduction, in no way is it "deceptively labeled and made to look as if it came from Maricopa County Elections."  Plain as day, it prominently says "Paid for by.....etc."   Stephen's right, the big deception is Olivia Cortes' name being on the ballot at all.  The description of the other mailings sounds like Chuck Coughlin's work.And why would Pearce even mention those campaign mailings on a radio station, when our mailboxes have been flooded for weeks with HIS large campaign mailings? (I've received at least eleven from him or his various campaign committees.)

BTW, tonight I rec'd a recorded call from Colorado resident & Pearce supporter Tom Tancredo, much toned down from his war and fear mongering address given at the recent Pearce rally.  At the end of his message he said "This message has been paid for by Arizona..(bleep)."  Strange, because I'm sure the Pearce campaign committee  Tancredo chairs, which is registered with the SOS, doesn't begin with "Arizona."

Tina
Tina

If any other commenters on this blog are also LD 18 voters,  did YOU receive any of these mailings from Citizens United for Progress?  

 It's been alleged that this organization sent out FOUR mailings, on shiny card stock paper, to District 18 voters, and if that's the case,  it makes no sense that I did not receive even one.  Something about this matter smells.  Please post a response, or if you know a voter in LD 18, would you ask them if they remember getting one?

Tina
Tina

Oddly (to me) is that the letter to Citizens United for Progress from the SOS's office, mentions FOUR mailers on glossy card stock paper having been sent to LD 18 voters by CUP.  

I've been an LD 18 voter, same address, for many decades and never received even ONE mailing from Citizens Untied for Progress.  I save campaign material I receive in the mail and HAVE received NINE mailings from the Pearce campaigns on glossy card stock paper.  They were paid for by any one of the following: "Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall," "Patriots for Pearce" or the "American Federation for Children" out of Washington, D.C.  I also received two letters from Pearce in business size envelopes, and one letter from Jerry Lewis in a business size envelope.  

This article is the first I've learned of these supposed mailings by Citizens United for Progress.  I am already a Jerry Lewis supporter and am not an early voter.  How was their mailing list determined. Who was selected to receive their mailings?   Again, I never received even ONE mailing from Citizens United for Progress.   

Sees Alot
Sees Alot

Sec of State just stated there was a violation.. Get their take

Hock
Hock

Too bad they didn't do this the correct way.  I hope it can be remediated.

DVD to MKV file
DVD to MKV file

Thanks for sharing the news her. I am very glad to hear this news. Thanks a lot.

Oblivious Cortex
Oblivious Cortex

Well, what do you know.  Steven Hirsch is also representing a group called Arizona Citizens United (get it?  Citizens United?) who are backing Republican Wes Gullett in the Phoenix mayoral election. 

And the Republic reports that the Secretary of State has his panties in a wad because the corporation has not reported the source of its funds.  Apparently they did register with the city, but refuse to disclose names of contributors. 

This may be a preview of what we find out later this month about the pro-Pearce and pro-Olivia Cortes campaigners.  That is, we won't find out much at all.

It's all the fault of those liberals, I tell you.  The ACLU supported the Supreme Court "Citizens United" decision that made all of this nefarious skullduggery possible by overturning everything John McCain had worked for.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizo...

maestramadremia
maestramadremia

Ir must have been Pearce's nieces and brother since they worked so hard to get someone other than their uncle/brother on the ballet! (tongue in cheek)

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

But a cigar is so much more when it's been in the hands of a president when accompanied by an intern....

Mistalee
Mistalee

So he's an attorney and he screws up like this? Some attorney!

guest
guest

Horne has no business investigating this if he has refused to look into the sham shit up to this point.

Lala
Lala

A lawyer doesn't check the law before he/she involves into a mailing in an election?  Smells like fish to me.

Phil
Phil

I would not be surprised to see a few familure names on the list the state gets. I'm sure not one RP loyalist would be up to doing something like this just to add fuel to the fire.

maxparraz
maxparraz

so there was no crime, no fraud whoever put up the Cortes signs. They simply forgot to register with the SOS

see how that works?

Jshuler6
Jshuler6

Yes, I agree that the Tempe address on the reminder cards is questionable.  One key factor overlooked in this article though, is that members of Citizens for a Better Arizona (myself included, and predominately residents of L.D.18) peacefully converged on Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell's office several times after Olivia Cortes withdrew from this election.  During the visit that I attended, Ms. Purcell pawned us off on her secretary; when we made it clear that we intended to wait as long as necessary to speak with Purcell personally, she appeared after about 15 minutes (it helped having 3 news cameras there!)

When we questioned Purcell about the tainted ballots, we were told that some of the ballots had already been mailed to service people oversees. Yes, we replied, but those ballots are erroneous -- the service personnel who are risking their lives certainly deserve clean ballots.  We asked for notices to be mailed out -- no, she replied, it was not about money, but she did not have the authority to mail out reminders. All she could do was post signs at the polling places and train poll workers to inform voters that Cortes had withdrawn from the race. We reminded her that 75% of L.D. 18 voters vote by mail -- could she please do her job and mail out notices to those voters?  Around and around the questioning went, with C.B.A members wanting justice and Helen Purcell abdicating authority to correct the ballots. Of all the skirting of responsibility that Purcell did, she made one thing absolutely clear:  IT IS UP TO YOUR GROUP TO INFORM VOTERS OF THE WITHDRAWN CANDIDATE. 

Leave it to Pearce to try to twist this into a violation of "ethics" --  the reality is that Helen Purcell abandoned the voters of L.D. 18, left the responsibility to the citizens, and the citizens took the ball and ran with it.

-Betsy Shuler, L.D. 18

Oblivious Cortex
Oblivious Cortex

Citizens United, of course, is the name of the famous Supreme Court case that determined corporations have First Amendment rights to do as they please in elections.  Are we sure that the Arizona law requiring registration is still Constitutional?  Could be someone is looking for a test case?  Has New Times registered as a political committee?

Jewel in the Desert
Jewel in the Desert

I was wondering who was behind those silly mailers.  Thanks for clearing that up.  Would we know anything truthful about this election if it weren't for you and a few other diligent truth seekers like Dennis Gilman, Robert Haasch, and a few clips and articles here and there from the local news media?  Thank heavens for the media....well, at least most of it....There are a few exceptions like the Sonoran Alliance which I would categorize as pure propaganda trash.

Bnbk
Bnbk

Dems showing that they can be just as stupid as Republi-Cons. No wonder everyone is going Ind. Thanks for the help Mr. Hirsch. 

Oblivious Cortex
Oblivious Cortex

Blaming a statutory agent for the actions of a corporation is as ignorant as blaming defense attorney Randall Craig for the Baseline Killer crimes. 

A statutory agent is simply a corporation's designated recipient of legal paperwork.

Steven A. Hirsch is listed as statutory agent for 20 businesses, including Henny's Print Shop.  So now he'll be accused of manufacturing the Olivia Cortes campaign signs?

The question here should be, who is Justin Tash? He doesn't have much of a public-records footprint, in Arizona politics or otherwise.

But you have to be as clueless as Arpaio claims to be, not to recognize the "Citizens United" red flag being waved in the face of state regulators by this new corporation.  The issue is whether they have any more authority to tell this corporation what to do, than they have to tell Dennis Gilman what he can post on YouTube. 

"Get it right" has been replaced by "get it first," on stories like this.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Want to make a little wager mb?

What will happen first?

1.The CUP will take the necessary action to become compliant with the law.

2. Pearce will produce cancelled checks proving he reimbursed the Fiesta Bowl.

My money's on 1.

Jason
Jason

The crime was Cortes herself, dumbass.

She was a political pawn, used by a mentally sick, sleazy, corrupt, career politician like Pearce for his own gain. For that, Pearce needs to be indicted and perp-walked.

Get this straight, and get it straight quickly. Pearce will be thrown out on his sorry ass and LD18 will welcome Jerry Lewis as their new senator come November 8. Pearce is too mentally sick and corrupt to actually have a chance at survival against Lewis.

Phil
Phil

Sound slike an RP operative is out to make a mole hill out of a mountain. Could it be they did this? I doubt it being that RP is of such a high ethical standard.....

maxparraz
maxparraz

and you have PROOF Pearce was involved? yeah, thought so. BTW, that is called Libel

Jason
Jason

The fact that Pearce's unethical, sleazy, JP brother Lester was subpoenaed for the second evidentiary hearing is proof enough for me. If Russell, or his family, weren't involved, why subpoena Lester?

When you think (and I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Hell will freeze over before you develop enough brain cells to think) you have an answer to my question, please feel free to respond.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Not so fast, amigo. Libel only exists if the statement is deemed to be false (1) and injury to the victim's reputation results directly from said statement (2). In this case it's probable that if a lawsuit for libel was filed all those witnesses and evidence not heard and seen for the Friday hearing (which was cancelled) would be used in deposition, with the lawsuit being quashed as a result. And, (2) there is no way the reputation of pearce could possibly be injured any worse than it already has been. He HAS been recalled, as you may remember. The ONLY sitting senate president in history to have been recalled.

He's also been fired from MCSO. Been fired as director of MVD and been fired by the voters in his very district.

But you knew that, right?

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