Russell Pearce's Olivia Cortes Off The Hook in Petition Pros Scandal

Tom Ryan, the crusading attorney who brought the action in superior court last year against Cortes' campaign, scoffed at the notion that Flores, a Republican, went to Tsontakis for answers. He also noted that Flores never contacted him.

"Asking Anthony Tsontakis who put up the money [for Petition Pros] makes as much sense as asking Bernie Madoff who created the Ponzi [scheme]," he quipped.

He believes Flores fumbled the matter.

"It's not surprising," he said. "She's a politician and she's going to be a politician before what she's done here."

The Secretary of State's Office couldn't immediately answer Flores' charge that it didn't reply to her inquiries. 

Today, the SOS and the AG held a press conference with slavish Pearce supporter and state Representative Eddie Farnsworth to announce plans to toughen-up state campaign finance laws to deal with so-called "Citizens United" groups, which claim they are not beholden to state statutes because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision of the same name.

One such group, Citizens United for Progress, sent out a questionable anti-Pearce mailer during the recall campaign, the investigation of which also was sent to Flores' office. In a similar letter to Bennett, Flores also found further legal pursuit of the entity "unwarranted."

You can read Flores' letter on Cortes, here, and her letter on CUP, here.

The matter of who paid Petition Pros goes to the heart of the Cortes scandal, and potentially involves a class five felony, which makes it a crime to "defraud an elector by deceiving and causing him to vote for a different person for an office or for a measure than he intended or desired to vote for."

Not to mention that it runs afoul of the Arizona Constitution itself, as a 1959 Arizona Supreme Court ruling, Griffin vs. Buzard, backs up the contention that running a diversionary candidate falls foul of the law.

Cortes' name remained on the recall ballot, despite her withdrawal, and she pulled 277 votes, folks who clearly did not get the message that she was a sham.

But as Ryan pointed out, no one in authority gives a javelina's snout.

"They don't care," he said of those who should be pursuing the alleged fraud. "They really don't care."

As you may recall, one PP worker, Susan Dreher, admitted to the press that the point of putting Cortes on the ballot was to dilute the vote

Under oath, she said PP owner Burns taught her the pitch.

When I encountered Burns outside the Mesa Library shilling for Cortes, she let drop the name "Constantin," then quickly clammed up.

When I later asked her to come clean on who paid her, she declined, asking, "It's all over with, isn't it?"

In the sense that Arizona lacks a prosecutor willing to seek the answers, yes.

But in the sense that Pearce is still plotting his comeback and running for First Vice Chair of the state GOP, no. That candidacy makes the issue as relevant as it was on November 8.

So you can thank Pearce for helping to keep the story alive.


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38 comments
Not Surprised
Not Surprised

This is such BULLSHIT!  

Petition Pros didn't do this for free.  Someone dealt Petition Pros to make arrangements for the signature collection.  Who at Petition Pros handled this account?  Who did Petition Pros deal with from the initial contact, coordinating the signature collecting, payment for services, who did they give the gathered signatures to?

Petition Pros and their paid employees didn't do this work for free.  There's a receipt for payment, probably a receipt for the hand-off of the gathered signatures too.   A check or credit card payment.  Is it so damned hard for the SOS to request a copy or give Flores the ability to do so?

I guess there is consolation in that this back fired and Pearce paid the utilimate price, loss of whatever was left of his integrity, loss of faith from LD18's constituents, and loss of the senate seat/presidency.

WTH Ken Bennett and Tom Horne? Why even turn over "the investigation" to Flores without giving her the tools she needed to investigate?

This stinks. I'll be remembering this come election time. Apparently the corruption of Russ Pearce's campaign continues and extends way beyond his campaign committee.

Tina
Tina

My last comment was posted in separated paragraphs, but unfortunately didn't turn out that way. 

So I'll repeat one inquiry. 

Is that true, that a prosecutor, under the campaign financing statutes, has "no investigative authority" to issue a subpoena? 

Stacy
Stacy

We're talking Tom Horne (who endorsed Russell Pearce) as the Attorney General who's administration was entrusted to investigate this.  Are any of you surprised by this results?  I'm not.

Crow
Crow

In Arizona republicans write laws that protect themselves and we hardly even notice. Thats why we have more ALEC members then any other state.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

Why is Farnsworth bothering to pass new election laws when Horne and Montgomery won't enforce the ones we already have?  Between Olivia "I never even be to a Tea Party" Cortes and the Fiesta Bowl beneficiaries, there has been plenty of illegal campaign finance hijincks going on that has hertofore gone unpunished. 

I also thought it was extremely disingenuous of Farnsworth to mention the Citizens United for Progress group (who operated within the confines of the law) while conveniently failing to recognize Querard's "chicanery, skullduggery, and outright fraudulent conduct" in the Pearce campaign.  Who paid for Cortes' signs, signatures, and legal defense?  We will apparently never know. 

Jason
Jason

This is the same Daisy Flores who refused to prosecute Stapley and Wilcox when Candy Andy and the Miscreants conflicted the cases out to her. She said that Wilcox did not commit crimes and that Stapley, while she felt he may have been guilty of 7 Class 6 felonies, was unable to be prosecuted due to extreme malice on the part of Candy Andy and the Miscreants.  

I wonder why she's refusing to prosecute Pearce & Co. for the Olivia Cortes scandal? I wonder if Pearce has or has tried to intimidate her into silence? Seems to me that there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction in this case.

Tina
Tina

Stephen, thanks for your follow-through on this, as well as the reminders of who and what was all involved from the get-go of that unlawful Olivia Cortes scam.  I'll have to go back and read the Daisy Flores assessment, but as Jewel points out, all respect was lost for any number of people:  those involved in the East Valley Tea Party, unaccountable Cortes, Pearce ("She has a constitutional right to run"), Burns, and of course Querard who apparently has a reputation for disonorable conduct.  Again, thanks for the update.

Phoenix Justice
Phoenix Justice

Are there any county attorney's in Arizona that are Democrats?  If so, wouldn't it have been more prudent to "conflict" it out to a Democrat to show that the AG was taking it seriously?

AnotherMesaVoter
AnotherMesaVoter

Ain't that some sh...
It won't be forgotten - nor the names of those involved
Diane Burns
Dan Grimm
Russell Pearce
Constantine Querard
Pat Oldroyd
Lester Pearce
Anthony Tsontakis
As Jewel in the desert noted, others that only they and probably families and acquantances know, that they sold out their morals and ethics with their deception for someone like Pearce.

 
 
 

Jewel in the desert
Jewel in the desert

It's heartbreaking to me that those who claim to be all about the "rule of law" so blatantly trample every law that happens to get in their way towards their sleazy end.  They think the end justifies their dishonest actions. There was a husband and wife who I had honored and respected as my church leaders when I was a teenager. (I won't name them here publicly, but they know who they are). They were involved in this scam and I will never feel the same honor and respect for them as I formerly did.  So, despite the lack of law enforcement here, a price has been paid and to me one's honor and respect is a much higher price to pay.

12345
12345

and we are shocked why? You can't get these corrupt politicians to prosecute other corrupt politicians. Look how Montgomery has give a pass to Arpaio.

Leonardclark
Leonardclark

Both major political parties live in "glass houses".  They will only go so far for public consumption, now...when an investigation involves going after somebody not politically conntected...i.e. Joe Citizen who is not involved with politics...look out Joe Citizen ! 

 Both political parties know where the other "buried the bodies and hid their skeletons" as a consequence, they're not going to committ M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction).Leonard ClarkThe Damn Liberal1-18-12

Jason
Jason

I thought that Horne had conflicted the Cortes matter out to Monty.

Not that it matters much anyway.

Ross
Ross

Could you publish a list of other crimes I can commit without needing to worry about investigative problems like subpoenas and grand juries?

Steve Muratore
Steve Muratore

But will this law, if enacted, have any bearing on whether we'd be able to discover who is behind a group like Fair Trust?

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Since when do Superior Court judges investigate?  

Judges are presented evidence and make decisions based on the information they receive from those presenting the case.  They do not conduct independent investigations.

Tina
Tina

Yes, it sure did backfire -- thanks to a lot of dedicated people rooting out and exposing (at least partially) the election fraud evil....which includes PNT and Dennis Gillman.

Petition Pros owner Diane Burns has been around these parts (Mesa) for a long time with her signature collecting business, no stranger to many of the powers that be.  She was subpoenaed for that September court hearing, as Stephen mentions, to be asked the questions you pose, but supposedly was going to be out of town or had some other reason acceptable to the court for her absence. 

I don't think there's any question that it was Burns herself that handled the account, and because Burns won't answer informally asked questions about it, she's just as responsible for the election fraud as the person who is the source of the payment for the signatures she turned over to SOMEONE...possibly Greg Western who then filed the petitions with the SOS and who was Olivia's mentor. 

To implement the voter fraud, Burns even coached her petitioners to tell prospective Pearce voters that a signature for Cortes is a vote for Pearce, and 3 different news reporters heard the same pitch at the library in early September. 

When at the library, Stephen Lemons overheard Burns ask a male cohort, "Will you be seeing Constantin?"  And when Lemons asked her about Constantin, she clammed up.  Burns knew damn well that the voter fraud scheme was wrong, and she was an active participant in it. 

A thorough investigation was never conducted. Aside from Pearce justifiably losing the election, nobody was monetarily punished for that voter fraud scheme.  Nobody was punished for the violations of campaign finance laws (unreported income and expenditures).   There was no trial.  

Hence something akin to this will be tried again by corrupt people who operate on the premise, "Whatever you can get by with is "legal."

Jason
Jason

Horne cried conflict of interest (as he usually does) and got Flores to take up the case because he supported mentally sick and corrupt Pearce during the recall.

I suspect, strongly, that Pearce & Co. intimidated or tried to intimidate Flores & Co. into not prosecuting the Cortes scandal for fear that the Flaccid Failure (Pearce's good buddy and mentor) would perp-walk him.

Tina
Tina


When this was submitted to the AG's office by the SOS' office, what supplementary information about Cortes' unreported expenses was included?  The only unreported expenses that Daisy Flores addresses are the paid petition circulators.  Not the unreported expenses for the slick Cortes signs, and definitely not the expenses for her lawyer Tsontakis (whom Cortes didn't even meet until the day of the September  court hearing.)
Then we read, "Flores complained to me that she had "no investigative authority" under the statute to subpoena Petition Pros' owner Diane Burns and force her to fess up. She said she queried the SOS' office and Cortes attorney Anthony Tsontakis, but got bupkis."Is that true, that a prosecutor, under the campaign financing statutes, has "no investigative authority" to issue a subpoena?   Daisy Flores apparently had no qualms conversing or otherwise communicating with Cortes'  attorney Tsontakis.  She already knew details of the court proceedings against Cortes, who was represented by Tsontakis,  and she knew of the deficient campaign financing statements.  Yet it never occurred to her to simply ask Tsontakis who was paying him for Cortes'  defense and why that expenditure wasn't listed?In her last paragraph, Daisy Flores  is well aware of the scenario, using the terms "puppet" (Cortes) amd "puppeteer" (the unknown financier of the unlawful endeavor).  While Olivia Cortes dishonestly portrayed herself to the judge as a serious candidate and is therefore not blameless, I think the "puppeteer" who financed the endeavor and apparently dreamed up the scheme should be pursued, investigated, interrogated, and prosecuted through proper legal channels.  All fngers are pointing to Constantin Querard.   

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Flores ruled. Stop whining. Have you no reapect for the court system?

Tina
Tina

Jewel, thanks for sharing that, and your wise recognition about the price those people paid being the lost respect people such yourself once held for them.

Bobunf
Bobunf

Leonard, could you list the Democrats who are involved in covering up the Cortes scam?

Tom Horne?
Ken Bennennt?
Daisy Flores?
Bill Montgomery?
Jan Brewer?

Who else is in the loop?  So far I don't count any Dems.  About the same number of Libertarians.

Huffing and fulminating about "both major political parties" gets really old; especially when one party holds all the cards and does all stone throwing.

Maybe you could give it rest until something more appropriate comes along.

Guest
Guest

No, to Daisy...

Jakethesnake
Jakethesnake

Stephen, continue to investigate, all you need is a source willing to sign a notarized affidavit, but somehow remove this case from Gila County as there are numerous conflicts of interests between Gila County and Maricopa County

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

First, you have to be elected as a Republican, then it's pretty much open season on which laws you choose to break with impunity.

teknik1200
teknik1200

it's not what you do, but rather who you are that gets you off easy around here.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

In AZ you can shoot someone with a gun if you "feel your life is in danger". So Shoot them and plant a gun on them.. easy as pie.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

I realize my own error that Flores is a county attorney and not a judge.  I retract my statement.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

YPS, the law was obviously broken.  Olivia Cortes' campaign paid Petition Pros to gather signatures.  Signs were posted in her behalf.  An attorney was provided to represent her.  Even in kind donations have to be reported.  Not one cent was reported for any of these activities. 

It does not surprise me that a Pearce and Arpaio supporter like yourself has such a cavalier disregard for the Rule of Law. 

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

I have great respect for a court system. I just wish Az. had one instead of the " Crony Judiciary System" which allows blatant disregard for the law.

Still hiding behind the screen name YPS?

Bob U

Expert Shot
Expert Shot

Lemons likes to gin up stories about democrats acting badly to justify his existence - he needs conflict between the major parties to get his story ideas and stay journalisticly "balanced".  Without these themes he would get less traction with his bosses than he does - besides, Lacey likes to think he's outside the fray sometimes - I'm kinda glad he got hauled off - woke his fat ass up!

Expert Shot
Expert Shot

Daisy is a "dead duck" as far as her political future is concerned - I and thousands of other civil rights activists in Arizona will see to that!  Remember the Cortes!

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

My comments are erroneous.  I was mistaken in thinking Flores was a Superior Court Justice.  I recognize now she is the Gila County Attorney.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

A judge dismissed the case.  That judge is given the authority to make such judgements based on the rule of law.  I'm not sure how I am disregarding anything in recognizing Judge Flores' authority.

You disagree with the judge's decision.  That is your prerogative.  I disagreed with Judge McMurray's decision and you lambasted my position.  You can't have it both ways Chad.

How closely are you related to Federal Judge Snow? 

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

I'm not stupid enough to give my info out on the internet for you psychos to exploit.  

That's quite a food blister your sporting buddy.   You ever thought of joining Jenny Craig?

Jason
Jason

Back again to spew off more degrading and useless information, you fool?

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