Maricopa County GOP Chairman Sued for Defamation Over Voter-Fraud Allegations

Categories: News

Matthew Hendley
Members of Citizens for a Better Arizona protesting LaFaro's comments at the state GOP headquarters earlier this week.
The chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party is being sued for defamation after he essentially accused a Latino voter-outreach group of voter fraud.

Maricopa County GOP chairman A.J. LaFaro accused the group Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) of "stuffing the ballot box" at the county election headquarters, and alleged that they fill out voters' ballots for them. Additionally, he called one of CBA's workers, Ben Marin, a "violent thug."

Local attorney Alexander Kolodin, who's representing Marin and CBA in this lawsuit, tells New Times the things LaFaro said about Marin were "not only untrue but really virulent."

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Arizona Death Penalty Still in Limbo After Botched Execution

Categories: News

Matthew Hendley
After it took two hours and 15 doses of lethal-injection drugs for the state to execute convicted murderer Joseph Wood in July, the state's death penalty procedure is still in limbo.

A lawsuit in federal court, filed by both current death-row prisoners and a legal group representing media organizations, challenges various aspects of the state's lethal-injection protocol. At a status conference today, Judge Neil Wake suggested there may be no way right now for the state to execute anyone.

As Wake put it, "There seems to be a great deal of uncertainty, to put it in a great understatement."

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Doug Ducey's Shady Salesmanship of Himself and the GOP Brand Signals Doom for Arizona

Categories: News

New Times Illustration


Doug Ducey's one of those guys who could make a living selling Bermuda shorts to Alaskan bush people.

So it's no surprise that he snookered Wall Street Journal writer Jason Riley, who recently traveled to Tucson to meet with the Republican gubernatorial wannabe as he campaigned in the Old Pueblo.

I should point out that I'm a fan of Riley's 2008 book Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, which lays out an enlightened, libertarian argument for the free flow of immigrants into this country.

But the conservative columnist clearly fell hard for Ducey and the line of bull he's selling, judging from Riley's enthusiastic regurgitation of Ducey's propaganda in the Journal's pages.

Breathlessly titled "A Tax Reformer Rises in Arizona," Riley's piece praises Ducey's "Midwestern plain-spokenness" while observing the importance of Ducey's life history to his pitch.

"I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, son of a cop, very much a product of the working class," Riley quotes Ducey's telling a small gathering in Tucson.

Riley adds, "Biography is a major theme of [Ducey's] stump speech, along with the business experience he gained after moving to Arizona in the early 1980s to attend college and then running a successful ice cream company, Cold Stone Creamery, which he sold in 2007."

A confidence man (um, a politician) requires a lack of skepticism on the part of the mark, a willingness to be bamboozled. Riley and many others closer to home have demonstrated this trait when it comes to Ducey.

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Maricopa County GOP Chairman Under More Fire: Group Stages Big Ballot Drop-Off, Threatens Lawsuit

Ashley Cusick
CBA volunteers line up at the Maricopa County Recorder and Elections office to turn in ballots they collected while canvassing. Several of the volunteers wore paper masks with the face of Ben Marin, a canvasser called a "violent thug" by Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman A.J. LaFaro.
Canvassers from a community-engagement group falsely accused of voter fraud staged a large-scale drop-off of ballots yesterday. About 30 canvassers from Citizens for a Better Arizona brought more than 300 completed ballots to the Maricopa County Recorder and Elections Office late yesterday afternoon.

The move was a direct response to comments made by A.J. LaFaro, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, in which he accused the group of voter fraud after witnessing a CBA canvasser turning in ballots. A video of the canvasser dropping off ballots received more than 532,000 hits.

CBA's work in fact is completely legal. The non-partisan group has knocked on over 60,000 doors in the last four months, asking residents to register to vote and to request and complete mail-in ballots. Volunteers also offer to bring completed ballots directly to the Elections Office for those who don't want to mail them in.

The group has focused its efforts on engaging the Latino community. They say in a press release that LaFaro's comments have made their efforts more difficult.

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Jeremy Sweet, Phoenix Cop, Accused of Pointing Gun in Apparent Road-Rage Incident

Categories: Bad Cops

A Phoenix police officer was arrested and booked into jail on Tuesday, accused of pulling a gun on people during an apparent road-rage incident while transporting prisoners.

Jeremy Sweet, 51, has worked for the department's Central Booking Unit for about seven years. On Monday at about noon, he was transporting several prisoners in an unmarked vehicle when he became involved in a "traffic altercation" at about Central Avenue and Lincoln Street, police say.

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Joe Arpaio, MCSO Get a Talking-To From Federal Judge in Racial-Profiling Case

Categories: News

Matthew Hendley
Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Federal Judge G. Murray Snow, who's presiding over the racial-profiling case against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, did not seem too happy yesterday.

MCSO and Arpaio's side of the courtroom got a talking-to from Snow yesterday at a hearing to discuss some of Arpaio's public comments, plus the investigation surrounding former Deputy Charley Armendariz, who may have been shaking down immigrants and may not have been acting alone.

Although Arpaio wasn't present, Snow specifically took issue with one of the Sheriff's comments to the Associated Press about the MCSO's 2008 immigration raid of the Town of Guadalupe, in which Arpaio said he'd "do it all over again."

"I can't ignore things he says when they're directly as provocative as they are," Snow said, shortly after mentioning that he was going to order Arpaio to take the same court-mandated training as his deputies.

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Not All Arizona Republic Journalists Landed Job After Reapplying for a Position

Categories: Media, Schmedia

Giulio Sciorio
Several Arizona Republic editorial staff members failed to land a job after being forced to reapply for a position at the state's largest newspaper.

Veteran journalists were among those who did not make the cut when the dust settled.

The layoffs follow news in August that the paper's parent company, Gannett, was splitting into two companies next year -- one company to hold its downward-spiraling newspapers and another to contain its money-making operations like TV stations and non-journalistic websites.

"Lots of good people left," reporter Michael Clancy wrote on Facebook today, acknowledging he had just lost his job. "Some not so great held on. A few good people gone."

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Pamela Geller Talk Goes On as Planned, Despite Calls for Cancellation

Categories: News, Teabagging

A Red Mountain Tea Party event headlined by notorious anti-Islamic speaker Pamela Geller went on as planned last night despite a Muslim civil-liberties organization's call for the event's cancellation.

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on East Valley High School in Mesa, which hosts the Red Mountain Tea Party's weekly meetings, to cancel the event.

In a blog post advertising the event, Geller warned "Islamic thugs and goons" that attendees would be armed, writing, "We have armed security, plus it's a gun state--plenty of patriots with protection, including me. Trust me -- you are going down first."

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Video: Glendale Firefighters' Profanity-Laced Threats in Driveway Altercation

Categories: Caught on Video

Glendale firefighters cussed and made threats during an altercation in the driveway of a home on Sunday, as captured by a neighbor's video camera.

"You motherfucker. You're fucking dead meat, bitch!" a firefighter yells at a patient in a gurney, as can be seen in the video uploaded to YouTube on Monday. "I'm going to take you for everything you have...You piece of shit."

Not exactly the Glendale Fire Department's finest hour.

See update at bottom of post.

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Group Accused of "Ballot Stuffing" Demands an Apology at Arizona GOP Headquarters

Categories: News

Matthew Hendley
Protesters filing into the Arizona Republican Party headquarters yesterday.
The activist group Citizens for a Better went to the state GOP headquarters in Phoenix to demand an apology after Maricopa County Republican Party chairman A.J. LaFaro accused the group of voter fraud.

LaFaro drummed up nationwide controversy by implying he witnessed voter fraud when someone with Citizens for a Better Arizona dropped off some voters' completed ballots at the Maricopa County elections headquarters, which is actually a completely legal practice.

"LaFaro started the rumor," CBA organizer Ramiro Luna said to state GOP executive director Chad Heywood, who greeted the protesters in the lobby yesterday. "The Republican Party, the extreme right has been spreading that rumor so much that it has caused much harm. My young canvasser right here, the cops got called on her. We have another canvasser who got put in the back of a cop car because of these statements."

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"Dangerous Hash-Oil Blasts" Linked to Pot Decriminalization in Republic Propaganda

Categories: Weed

Fortuna Police Department
Aftermath of a bathroom blast in California related to the manufacture of hash oil.
The dangers of fire and explosions related to "hash oil" may be newsworthy, but Friday's Arizona Republic story on the cannabis concentrate reads more like pro-prohibition propaganda.

"Dangerous hash-oil blasts are an increasing concern," according to the headline of the Valley & State story. A sub-head continues, "In markets with more relaxed pot laws, new threat looms."

The sub-head's message heralds the questionable political angle that the threat won't loom if only voters would say no to legalization.

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Navajo State Representative Wants Washington Redskins' Name Changed

Categories: News, Racism

Keith Allison
An Arizona state Representative who is a member of the Navajo Nation says the Washington Redskins' name is offensive and should be changed.

Just weeks after Native Americans protested in Glendale outside an Arizona Cardinals game against Washington, Democratic Representative Jamescita Peshlakai has publicly called on Arizona's congressional delegate to sponsor a bill that would pressure the NFL team to change the name.

"I don't want those protesters to think they are out there alone," Peshlakai tells New Times. "They need to be supported by leaders who feel this way, and I'm one of them."

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Shanesha Taylor Fails to Fund Kids' Trusts; UPDATE: Prosecution to Move Forward

Shanesha Taylor
Shanesha Taylor, the Scottsdale mom who left her kids in a hot car in March while on a job interview, has blown today's deadline to fund trust accounts for her kids.

In July, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery signed off on the deal to keep Taylor out of jail as long as she used $60,000 of more than $114,000 in Internet donations to set up the trust funds.

Despite Taylor's embarrassing broken promise today, though, Montgomery does not appear to be enthusiastic about prosecuting the woman whose case has become a cause celebre.

UPDATE:Late this afternoon, Montgomery's office sent word to New Times that the prosecution will now be moving ahead. (See that and the latest news on the case below.)

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Muslim Civil Liberties Group Calls on Mesa High School to Cancel Event Featuring Anti-Islamic Speaker

Categories: News, Teabagging

Pamela Geller

The Arizona chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties group is calling for the cancellation of an event tonight at a Mesa high school.

Pamela Geller is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at East Valley High School in Mesa at an event planned by the Red Mountain Tea Party, a Mesa-based group that meets regularly at the school. But the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is calling on the high school to cancel the event.

Their reasons are twofold.

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Video: Police-Brutality Protesters Arrested, Shot With Pepper Balls in Phoenix

UPDATE October 28, 11:25 a.m.: The above video has been updated to include exclusive video of the incident, plus an interview with one of the people arrested.

Phoenix police shot protesters with pepper balls and arrested six people downtown on Saturday night.

The 40 to 50 protesters who were demonstrating against the Phoenix Police Department and police brutality were arrested after ignoring an officer's command not to cross Washington Street. Phoenix Police Sergeant Jonathan Howard says the pepper balls were fired after "several members of the group began to throw flag poles that they had been carrying at the officers and interfere with the arrests."

"Officers discharged pepperballs at these suspects to protect the officers, the suspects being arrested, and others in the area, Howard says in a statement. "Those suspects quickly fled the area and were not located."

One protester New Times spoke to disagrees with the cops' version of events.

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In Arizona, West Nile Virus: 75, Ebola: 0

Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC
West Nile Virus
Ebola may have the nation on high alert, but the deadly virus hasn't yet made its way to Arizona. With the late summer's heavy flooding, locals should be more concerned about mosquito-borne diseases, officials say, especially the West Nile virus.

"West Nile virus is here; we know it's here, and so it's a much bigger risk," says Jessica Rigler, chief of the state Department of Health Services' Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control.

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10 Things You Never Thought You'd See in Arizona

Categories: List This

Ray Stern
Two Scottsdale residents, after getting their marriage license from Maricopa County earlier this month.
Arizona can be unpredictable sometimes.

From legal gay marriage to a Phoenix snow day, here are 10 things you never thought you'd see in Arizona:

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Arizona Millionaire's Ex-Wife Accused in Elaborate Murder Plot

Categories: News

Google Maps
The nearly 13,000-square-foot Coronado, California, home where Max Shacknai and Rebecca Zahau died in 2011.
The official investigations into the deaths of medical-sector executive Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend and young son have long been over, but not everything is settled.

According to authorities, 6-year-old Max Shacknai died from an accident under the care of his father's girlfriend at his Coronado, California, mansion in 2011. Rebecca Zahau, the girlfriend of former Medicis Pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai, committed suicide at the house two days later.

Both outcomes have been heavily disputed, but now, a lawsuit is going forward against Jonah Shacknai's ex-wife, Dina Shacknai, and two others, accusing them of an elaborate plot to murder Zahau.

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Armando Ramirez, AHCCCS Agent and Ex-Cop, Accused of Defrauding Veterans' Groups

Categories: Bad Cops

Armando Jay Ramirez, a former Phoenix cop and state medical-fraud investigator, has been indicted on suspicion of defrauding veterans' groups and state and federal agencies.

Ramirez, 40, worked for the Phoenix Police Department's South Mountain Precinct for about five years until his 2011 domestic-violence arrest in Casa Grande. Despite a felony conviction for unlawful discharge of a weapon, he began work in June of 2012 as a fraud investigator for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

On September 16, he was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on nine felony counts and one misdemeanor related to his alleged fraud and theft from AHCCCS, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans' groups including the Wounded Warrior Project and Challenge America.

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Maricopa County Mugshots of the Week: Go Your Own Way

At the end of the week, we bring you a roundup of visitors to the desert's own Fourth Avenue Jail. To be considered for our Maricopa County mugshots of the week, get arrested, strike a pose, and we'll take care of the rest.

This week, our inmates are the types to go their own way. Enjoy.

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