Senator Robert Meza Files Election Complaint Against Team Awesome, A Volunteer Group of Mostly Students Campaigning for His Opponent

Categories: Election 2012

See also Local Latino Activists Target Unlikely Politician

Team Awesome.jpg
www.facebook.com/StudentTeamAwesome
Student volunteers across the Valley are pushing for a change in Arizona's political climate.

Senator Robert Meza is accused of being out of touch with the mostly Latino community that he represents.

And he isn't doing himself any favors with a complaint he filed with the Secretary of State on July 16 against a group of student volunteers working for his opponent.

So far, he's filed three election-related complaints. In his latest, Meza charges that Team Awesome, a group that includes DREAM Act students, is violating state law because it hasn't registered as a political committee.

Thumbnail image for MezaMcCuneDavis.jpg
State Representative Debbie McCune-Davis and Senator Robert Meza
Team Awesome volunteers are walking neighborhoods, handing out campaign literature and have hosted at least one block party to introduce residents to certain political candidates.

The problem is Meza, who has been at the state Legislature for a decade, isn't one of them.

Instead, the group has collectively tossed its support behind Raquel Teran, a community activist who is challenging Meza for a Senate seat in Legislative District 30. The group is also supporting Jonathan Larkin, a candidate for the House of Representatives in the same district.

Larkin is running for one of two seats in a race against Mike Snitz, who is Meza's boyfriend, and state Representative Debbie McCune-Davis, who is endorsing Meza and has been at the legislature since 1978.

Snitz and McCune-Davis also signed the July 16 complaint, which includes other allegations that Larkin and Teran accepted unlawful campaign contributions.

The matter is being reviewed by the state elections department.

We have to wonder where Meza and his complaints were when the same group of students was walking the streets of Phoenix campaigning for Mayor Greg Stanton, one of Meza's supporters.

Now, we're no legal experts .... and, as we mentioned, state elections officials are going to sort this all out, but state law indicates that a political committee has to be formed when a group "intends to accept contributions or make expenditures" in a campaign.

That hasn't been the case with Team Awesome. They say they're raising the bar for elected officials, not raising money.

State law also defines what a contribution is -- and isn't. (See 5b) It specifically states that volunteers' services do not count as contributions toward a political campaign.

As for the block party with food and games, state law says that political contributions also preclude the cost of "food and beverages voluntarily provided by an individual to any candidate" as long as doesn't exceed $100.

Another complaint filed by Meza against Teran on April 26, points out that Teran's campaign literature omitted the phrase "Paid for by."

Danny Ortega, a Phoenix attorney representing Teran's political committee, noted in a response to the Secretary of State that it was an oversight, and that as soon as they became aware that the required disclosure was missing, they destroyed the campaign literature.

He also says that even before Meza filed his complaint, they had already printed that mandatory phrase on other election materials.

Meza has drawn some criticism over allegedly threatening Tony Valdovino, one of his opponent's young volunteers, with a lawsuit over negative comments he supposedly made about Meza while campaigning in the community.

Valdovino has said that he believes Meza is just trying to intimidate the volunteers and detract from the real issues -- his own lack of representation within the district. Meza hasn't been a vocal representative for the Latino community.

Meza has also had a complaint lodged against him on July 19, also with the Secretary of State, by a West Valley resident who alleged that he misused his campaign money.

Yeah, the races in LD 30 are getting messy.

Voters will decide on August 28 whether they want the old guard to retain power or want to usher in a generation of new leaders.


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16 comments
jester.jackson
jester.jackson

I think the facts in the articles imply that Meza is a crybaby.  It doesn't seem like he is engaged with the people he is supposed to represent either.  Maybe he forgot which side of the border he was on?

RobertGraham
RobertGraham

This article implies that Mr. Mesa is a racist.  Is he?

Bnbk
Bnbk

Meza says that he has "never been a person to shout on microphones or megaphones" Well,apparently he has also never been a person to answer telephones or bother to address the needs of his costituents either. Please tell us Mr. Meza,what have you done to address all the problems that plague west phoenix ? Politicians such as Meza and Tom Simplot have ignored all the pleas for help that your constituents have asked for. Telephone calls never returned or simply ignored. Any progress that has been made dealing with these problems in our community,were accomplished without the help of these so called leaders.........Yourself and your boyfriend Mr. Snitz, seem hell bent on running a smear campaign against the Teran/Larkin team. Let me tell you Mr. Meza,you are fooling no one. Our families were once supporters of yours,as a matter of fact some of my extended family went to school with you. You have even been over to some of our houses in the past. Our support for you has come to an end.....You have become nothing more than a self-serving politician,that is out of touch with the community you were elected to represent......We have been in contact with the Teran campaign and we have pledged our support to the Teran/Larkin Team. They will be delivering yard signs to all our properties and we have pledged finacial support.........We are not the only ones that feel this way......The loss of support from your at one time supporters was a consequence of your own making............Simplot should be the next to lose his elected position.

trentr9
trentr9

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."  Meza is in the fight stage, and Team Awesome is going to win.

chadsnow
chadsnow

The Secretary of State's office demonstrated during the Olivia Cortes matter that they are either completely powerless to enforce election laws or simply too lazy to care.  In the Cortez matter, election signs and signatures were paid for by somebody, but no one reported the expenditures to the SOS.  No action was taken where there was a clear violation of campaign finance laws and ample evidence of the lawbreakers.

 

Will be interesting to see how Bennett handles this one. 

 

wtf..
wtf..

thanks for the update on this, we wouldn't know a lot of what's going on with these elected officials without NT.  VOTE for Teran!

rickthepr1ck
rickthepr1ck

that faggot mesa and his homo lover need to go.

AZVoter
AZVoter

Wonderful to hear students are getting involved in our political process. Sounds like Meza is afraid of them. They might actually make a difference, and our incumbent politicians can't condone THAT; they'd much rather maintain the status quo (as long as it benefits them).

thetruth
thetruth

 @chadsnow  We had the same thing in El Mirage. The Attorney General said the thugs, I mean Mayor Mook had used city money in the bond election but they had no way to punish them. It is all a big joke, bring back the marfia, at least they kiss you before they f**K you over.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

@chadsnow According to the author of this story, no laws are being broken. I guess there is nothing to "handle."

teknik
teknik topcommenter

 @chadsnow um, you forgot the fact that iokiyar

 

they are all on the same team.

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

 @rickthepr1ck Meza needs to go because he is a corrupt politician. And there are other qualified candidates ready to take his place.

fairymagic13
fairymagic13

 @AZVoter Mr. Meza is not afraid. He is doing what he is supposed to be doing - challenging the challengers.  If, in political races, one does not challenge what is being done to defeat you, you are sure to find out later that it was NOT LEGAL, and had you but challenged the activity of your opponent you would have won.  While it may be unusual to the casual observer, it is an accepted cost of doing business for politicians.  Normal behavior if you will. 

 

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

 @fairymagic13 It's very obvious that Meza IS afraid. He has violated campaign finance laws and become a corrupt favor trading politician. He is rightfully being challenged and he will succumb.

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