Russell Pearce's Right-Wing Echo Chamber, and Its Latest Smear of Jerry Lewis

Gilman slams Patterson in his latest. Nice laugh track, Dennis.

In the wake of the Olivia Cortes flap in the Legislative District 18 recall race, the right-wing echo chamber has been trying its darnedest to gin up scandals involving Republican Jerry Lewis, state Senate President Russell Pearce's challenger.

First there was blogger-lobbyist Greg Patterson's assertion that Lewis had misappropriated funds from homeless kids in his role as an assistant superintendent of Sequoia Charter Schools, an allegation actually involving a couple of boxes of used clothing and an old entertainment center.

I laid these absurd charges to rest in a previous blog post, but there's another pseudo-scandal being peddled by the pro-Pearce crowd. This time by columnist Becky Fenger of the Cave Creek-based Sonoran News, which you may recall as the publication guilty of smearing Mesa resident Benita Lantigua, a signer of the petition that Citizens for a Better Arizona used to force the recall in LD 18.

Sonoran News suggested that Lantigua, a naturalized American citizen, had committed election fraud and bigamy, and was "likely" an illegal alien. All untrue, yet Sonoran News has so far refused to apologize to Lantigua or retract or correct the story.

Fenger wasn't involved in that particular untruth-telling. Rather, the slime oozed from SN's publisher and editor Don Sorchych and his Looney Tunes "reporter" Linda Bentley, a die-hard "birther" who continues to insist in print that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is a forgery, contrary to reality as experienced by non-tinfoil hat wearers. 

fengerb.JPG
sonorannews.com
Insert inappropriate joke about Becky's finger, here...

But as with wrong-way Bentley's scribblings, Fenger's inaccuracies in her recent "Fenger Pointing" column have been bandied about the ultra-conservative blogosphere as if written by the, um, finger of god.

Bankruptcy attorney Rachel Alexander's inaptly-named Intellectual Conservative Arizona blog has republished the Fenger article, and Fenger's allegations were repeated almost verbatim by Tea Partier Kelly Townsend Friday night at a rally for Pearce in Mesa that drew about 300 souls.

In addition to regurgitating the Patterson tripe, Fenger comes up with some of her own hooey regarding a relationship between Glendale's Joy Christian School and Sequoia Choice Arizona, a relationship that was the subject of an investigation by the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Seems Joy Christian was charging parents as a private institution, while allowing Sequoia, which is a public charter school and thus taxpayer-funded, to do the heavy-lifting academically. You can read the AG's complaint for yourself, here

Sequoia was not the target of the AG's action, Joy Christian was. The AG's office alleged Joy Christian violated the Consumer Fraud Act. In an agreement with the AG, Joy Christian was fined $30,000, and made to pay tuition assistance in the amount of $30K per year to students attending Joy Christian.

According to the complaint, Sequoia was not fined, was not party to the agreement with the AG's office, and was not made to "pay back" anything to anyone. Nor was Sequoia alleged to have broken the law.

"As a public charter school, Sequoia Choice receives state funding," the complaint reads at one point. "It cannot and did not charge any tuition for the classes it taught at the Joy Campus."

The Arizona Republic wrote about the settlement in July, stating that, 

"Sequoia Choice Arizona charter school did not face a penalty for its role in the arrangement because while it provided teachers and courses to Joy Christian, it did not accept any money beyond its state funding, the settlement said."

Lewis is currently an assistant superintendent of Sequoia Charter Schools, of which Sequoia Choice is a part. 

So far, so good. But here's how Fenger begins her mistaken recounting of events:

"Lewis was superintendent of Sequoia Schools, a publicly-funded charter school chain. In 2005 he approached the owners of Joy Christian School, a privately-funded Christian school, with an offer to contract Sequoia's distance learning system to provide learning tools that Joy lacked to some of Joy's students. Joy accepted the offer and began to have Joy students log into Sequoia's program from Joy School's facility."

According to Sequoia's superintendent Ron Neil, Lewis has never been a superintendent, and did not begin working for Sequoia until November of 2007.

Where did Fenger get her "facts"? There's nothing in the court record or in any of the Republic articles with this information.

"An audit was conducted. It was discovered that Sequoia received $1.9 million from the additional students. The audit also revealed that Sequoia had shown an increase of slightly over 400 new students on a daily basis by counting the Joy students

"Lewis (r) was confronted with the facts from the audit and advised to step down as superintendent of Sequoia. Lewis stepped down, and no charges were pressed. Since he had used state funds, Sequoia was forced to reimburse the funds."

Lewis is never mentioned in the AG's complaint. Neil says Lewis never had to step down from anything. And Sequoia did not have to reimburse any monies.

Where did Fenger get the $1.9 million figure? The Republic does mention this amount in the following context from a 2009 story:

"State records obtained by The Arizona Republic show that Sequoia Choice Arizona Distance Learning, a charter-school firm, collected at least $1.9 million in state funds from 2005 through 2008 to teach courses to students of Joy Christian School."

But that article doesn't mention this money being reimbursed, and it doesn't make sense that it would have to be, as Sequoia wasn't charging the parents of the kids, Joy Christian was. 

The closest the AG's complaint gets to criticizing Sequoia is the following passage:

"The Attorney General alleges that Joy Christian misrepresented its relationship with Sequoia Choice by downplaying the extent of coursework being taught by Sequoia Choice. Neither Joy Christian nor Sequoia Choice ever informed parents that students enrolled in Sequoia Choice could continue to receive an education at the Joy Campus, with the same teachers, same classrooms, and same curriculum, without paying any tuition to Joy Christian."

Still, there's no allegation that Sequoia took any of the tuition money paid to Joy Christian, and the AG didn't go after Sequoia, it went after Joy. 

Neil e-mailed me the following statement concerning the Sequoia-Joy matter:

"Sequoia's relationship with Joy started by providing supplemental courses to their new high school, which offered only a few courses. Eventually Sequoia Choice leased space on Joy's property, hired teachers and provided courses to many of the students. Sequoia basically taught many of the core courses; in other words, some of the students were part-time students in Sequoia Choice. 

"Joy provided a significant number of courses to their students. There were many students from Joy who did not attend any of Sequoia's courses. Sequoia Choice was open to ANY student, Joy or otherwise.

"The AG's office and [the Arizona Department of Education] auditor's office investigated as a result of a parent complaint from Joy. Sequoia Choice was never the object of the investigation. whereas Joy was fined for misleading their parents. Sequoia Choice has never been asked to refund any money. 

"The entire question was why did Joy charge so much when many of their students took some classes from Sequoia Choice. As you can appreciate, Sequoia has nothing to do with the policies of a private school."

I can't say I enjoy spending so much time debunking the bunk from the Pearce camp. But the Sonoran News and other such dubious outlets continue to churn out the falsehoods and half-truths full blast. And if these falsehoods are not countered, they take on the aura of vague credibility to the uninformed.

So, here lieth another scurrilous allegation crushed. Next?


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33 comments
Trikemike
Trikemike

I hate both patries.That being said, Russell Pearce is by far the right one for the job.He has worked for the people of this state his whole life.An honest politician? Yes he is. A nice change.

guest
guest

The truth is out there.... just no where within reach of the Pearce tin-foil brigade.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

This link was referred to by AZCentral blogger Paula Pennypacker.  In the linked article, there is a picture of the empty Hohokam stadium listening to Russell Pearce speak.  Note the United States flag by the stage.  Consider that Pearce wants to represent his district in the AZ Senate and note that there is no Arizona flag on display.  That struck me.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

If Pearce had a shred of integrity and dignity in his body, he would denounce these kinds of political dirty tricks.  Just like he should have denounced the dirty tricks in the Cortes matter.  But by not denouncing it, he has become complicit.  He can't beat Lewis on substance, style, or ethics, so he allows his little poli-whores Western, Patterson, Querard, and Willems to drag Lewis through the mud with completely unfounded scurrilous accusations. 

When Tom Ryan talked about "chicanery, skullduggery, and outright fraudulent conduct," he was talking about Russell Pearce. 

Susurro Perforado
Susurro Perforado

Every time I watch that clip of Greg Patterson walking into Sunday Squareoff trying to act like Olivia Cortes threatened to siphon off Tea Party votes from Russell Pearce, I think of how sad it is that good people have abandoned their integrity for Pearce.  Why would you abandon your integrity for Pearce?  I've ripped on Greg Patterson, mainly based on his behavior in this race, but many other conservatives have told me that Patterson is actually a thoughtful, insightful guy.  That makes it all the more obvious to me:  we should never abandon our most fundamental morals in the name of helping someone else in a lie.  I hope Greg privately regrets his decision, and would greatly admire him if he publicly expressed his regret.

Jason
Jason

Like a confused rat in a maze, Pearce continues to run around in circles, REALLY scared.

Pearce knows he's finished in Arizona politics. His intimidation tactics remind me of the MCSO shurf and Candy Andy tactics of 2008-2010.

In terms of elections law violations, Pearce has learned really well from the Flaccid Fool. The Old Fool has resorted to corruption to win his last 3 campaigns when he should have rightly lost. Pearce is doing the same thing.

Pearce needs to surrender. He has lost the battle and the war. Jerry Lewis is the man who will represent LD18 in the state Senate come November.

Oblivious Cortex
Oblivious Cortex

The real story here is that Lewis and Sequoia are doing everything legally, but we still don't know what that is.  We don't even know who writes his paychecks.

Nonprofit Sequoia collects money that goes to nonprofit Edkey that transfers huge sums to Edkey Management, a for-profit corporation that does not have to disclose anything to anybody.  It can pay large salaries to its executives, like Ron Neil.  Less money for classrooms, more money for the people who run the place.  Edkey Management is "owned" by Edkey, but there is no evidence of profits going back to the nonprofit owners. 

This is the incentive for charter-school entrepreneurs, and the reason that the public should ask more questions about "school choice."  Both candidates agree that education is a big issue in a legislative race -- the days when school boards made decisions are gone.  But they are both sucking at the same teat of free enterprise, rather than public disclosure of how public funds turn into private profits. 

Lewis is the lesser of two evils in this race, but let's not kid ourselves.   He's only a Saint because he calls himself one.

maxparraz
maxparraz

One thing strikes me as funny. Nobody but hard core liberals and amused conservatives read this flapdoodle rag. The conservatives of LD18 surely don't.

And also, where is that 100% physical PROOF that Pearce had ANY connection to the Cortes campaign? oh yeah, nowhere. Did that stop SteppedOn Lemmons from using "Pearce's Sham Candidate" over and over and over again? That right there is grounds for a libel lawsuit

LOL

Tina
Tina

I can understand how tedious it must be for Lemons "debunking the bunk,"  pointing out the all the untruths half-truths, and just untangling the Pearce camp's web of fabrications.  Thanks to Stephen's careful examination of Becky Fenger's out-of-thin-air statements, she has certainly shot her own credibility as a "journalist."  

Dennis Gllman's video of Jerry Lewis' responses to reporter's questions after the debate is beautiful. Lewis' well articulated resolve about listening to all viewpoints, working with (not against) others,  shows in the way he himself listened intently to the reporters'  questions of him, that he "practices what he preaches."  Lewis' reply to the detailed question by the last reporter, about what someone  was now claiming Lewis had wrongfully done that involved  backpacks for school children was another indication of Lewis' genuineness and honesty.  He was not dismissive of the question, but his summary answer, that he hadn't heard that one (another false rumor) before,  was very believable just by the amazed expression on his face 

ninelives.cassiecharityheart
ninelives.cassiecharityheart

Thanks once more for providing the truth and details that no other media outlet seems up to the task of doing. (with a few rare exeptions...I do give Kudo's to channel 12 for debunking Pearce's claim of Mormon church support that doesn't actually exist).

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Okay, I was talking with a collegue at work.  He's a republican, one of the good ole boys.  75 years old.  I mentioned the immorality of the Cortes candidacy and he just shrugged his shoulders and said - it's done all the time.  No shame or remose - just the thought that playing games with our States democratic processes is just fine and dandy.  

Well two can play at that game.  Here's one I heard at the water cooler:

Russell Pearce is part of a large sex ring in the Mormon church which involves the wives of many of the leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints (yes, they do dress up like Saints and then are treated to whip wielding dominatrix demanding that they are "Bad Saints"  VERY BAD SAINTS").

Russel Pearce is especially fond of the baby in leather diapers routine.  Being squirted with milk from a lactating dominatrix is especially naught for "Saint Russell".

I really wish the Sonoran Alliance would investigate these shennanigans - they're falling down on their ethical duties as members of the fourth estate . . . cough crrgh. 

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

This is all going to prove that Pearce and his klan are scared SHITLESS about the recall!

Come on LD18!  Boot the bozo!

Chick
Chick

Pearce is scared, his gang of swine are all out doing every thing they can to keep Uncle Russ in office.  Lots of pork might slip out of their greedy fingers.  Speaking of Fengers...Becky, poorly sourced, screechy white trash ramblings is not commentary.

Shane?  Your joke of a website makes the Onion read like The Economist, your gang of morons have been stroking each other too long, you all need to get out of Mom's basement and put away the stained pictures you have of Russell.

Patterson?  Nice guy, but, really, who butters your toast Steve?  You are paid for, you won't disobey your cash source, at least be honest that you are another whore.

What will Russell do next?  How much lower will he stoop?  Any lower and he will be the limbo king of Mesa.

Bobunf
Bobunf

Worked for the people of this state?  Here's a typical example of his "work:"

In May of this year, Russell Pearce appointed Terry Decker to the Arizona Child Support Board.  This is the same Terry Decker who pled guilty in 2008 to aggravated assault and interference with an educational facility for punching a teacher while taking his children out of school, in violation of his custody agreement. 

This is the same Terry, who in 1982 Decker was convicted of aggravated assault for firing shots at the passing car of his newspaper deliveryman.  

The term “violent felon” applies.

This is the same Terry Decker who has been unemployed and receiving Social Security disability payments for mental health issues for about five years.

This is the same Terry Decker whom Pearce appointed to help out the state with its Child Support issues.  

Some "work" Pearce has done.  There's lots more.  Lots more.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

IF you had a shred of integrity and dignity in your body you would come public with your true motiviations behind smearing any who get in the way of your personal agenda.

tit for tat slimeball.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

Patterson hedged his bets for months, not even mentioning the fact that the most powerful politician in the state had been recalled until 2 months after it happened.  Hell, he mentioned an alleged recall of Jon Kyl three times before he mentioned the actual recall of Pearce. 

I have friends who say he's a very nice guy, as well.  But as Chuck Coughlin reminded us, politics is a team sport, and Patterson has very clearly chosen his side.  You lay down with dogs...

Phil
Phil

Kind of like RP is a true American only cause he says he is. To bad your team did not hire local AZ lawers to run this by. From what I can tell the Federal election laws were followed to the T but wait a tick; ARIZONA has it's own laws and well OOOPS, we forgot to check those. You guys are in trouble if we can't patch this up quick!!! I bet your thinkin I was in that meeting huh?

Guest23
Guest23

I am niether a hardcore liberal or a amused conservative that does not trust the far left or right. I find the PNTs presents a viewpoint that other news outlets ignore and just from the facts PNTs presents is head and shoulders above espressopundits, sonoran alliances, and rachel alexanders websites when it comes to backing accusations with facts that are easily verifiable anf found. Something you always seem unable to do yourself.

The fact thatso many pearce family members were involved in cortes campaign is enough evidence for me to think pearce is lying. If he expects us to believe he is so unaware of his own families actions than he doesn't deserve the job he had besides the fact that it is obvious the pearce family had decided on plausable deniability even they failed on the plausable part.

My. Bitch sanchez keep sup with the unsubstantiated rhetoric only a mindless stepford wife right wing republican nut would swallow without gagging.

Mistalee
Mistalee

You are a bemused conservative. At best. Don't flatter yourself.

Jason
Jason

The 100% proof that Pearce was behind the Cortes "campaign" was the simple fact that Judge Burke agreed to hold a second evidentiary hearing in which Russell's JP brother, Lester, who was campaigning for him, in violation of Canon Four of the ethics, was subpoenaed.

Cortes would've been booted off the ballot had that hearing gone forward, no doubt, and Pearce would been slapped with a Class 5 felony.  

Coz
Coz

So which one are you ?... since you're here reading it.

>>Nobody but hard core liberals and amused conservatives read this flapdoodle rag. 

Susurro Perforado
Susurro Perforado

HAHAhahaha....awesome, awesome reply.  Score one for the Chick.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

...and you have chosen yours. ACORN and LARaza just for starters.

Keep on truckin' Steve Benson.

ZachHenry
ZachHenry

OC isn't a Pearce supporter, Phil.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

You also don't live in LD18, deleting you from consideration regarding his comment.

maxparraz
maxparraz

so Pearce wrote a check to finance the Cortes campaign? or there are recordings of Pearce setting up the Cortes campaign?

See, they got nothing. Not one shred of evidence proving Pearce had a damn thing to do with Cortes, but that don't stop lemmons and the rest of the media from libeling him

In other words, it is Lemmons himself guilty of election fraud and tampering with an election!

US War Veteran
US War Veteran

" Lemmons himself guilty of election fraud and tampering with an election! "

Jesus H. Christ, if I ever meet your mother I am going to ask her what in the fact was she thinking when she spread her legs and allowed your father to cum inside of her, you might have been the lucky sperm but you are far from being the smartest.

Susurro Perforado
Susurro Perforado

Of course Pearce knew about it.  And of course they took some steps to insulate Pearce.  Everyone knows that.  It is total BS that he first learned about it on the news, though.  I mean come on, seriously. The fact is Pearce could have said at any time: "I don't think recruiting a sham candidate to deceive hispanic voters is the right thing to do, and I call on it to stop."  And it would have stopped.  But he didn't do that, did he?  Nope.  Pearce is a sleezeball, and the way he has been campaigning is Exhibit A.  Lewis should be thankful he doesn't have to spend a lot of money and negative energy exposing to the public how slimy Pearce is;  Pearce has done that for him by acting like a turn of the century political boss.  Or Bull Connor--take your pick.

Phil
Phil

You truely have got to be kidding me right? SOunds like someone went over all of this with a fine tooth comb to make sure nothing could be tied back. People could say all they want and the signture gathers could too but it smells like a lawer made darn sure RP could not be touched. Too bad they did not use AZ lawers as it looks like the local laws will be well, very bad for the local politcos involved. What flavor koolaid was given today?

Jason
Jason

MR. Lemons did NOT put a sham candidate on a recall ballot, you illiterate loon. Your hero and savior Pearce did.

Pearce is guilty of violating ARS 16-1006. And, come November 8, Pearce will no longer be LD18 senator. The people will welcome Mr. Jerry Lewis as their new state senator.

ZachHenry
ZachHenry

Thats because Cortes conveniently dropped out before the truth could be exposed to the deserving public.

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