Former Arizona Senator Russell Pearce, author of SB 1070 and just about every other nativist shit stain on the books, was recalled last November. What made the victory so sweet, and sent a message to the legions of Arizona wingnuts, is that District 18 in Mesa, the district Pearce represented for 10 years, is extremely conservative. But even they had had enough of the bigot's divisive and counterproductive antics.
Pearce's chances were not helped in the recall when his campaign was caught red-handed running a sham candidate who, his team of Mensa darlings surmised, would siphon anti-Pearce votes away from Jerry Lewis, his opponent and eventual victor. And who would be the best candidate to appeal to voters who despise Pearce? A Hispanic woman of course!
So that's what his campaign did: they recruited Olivia Cortes, a grandmotherly type with no political experience, to be a third candidate—the idea being that Pearce haters, many of them Hispanic, would vote for her instead of Lewis, and Russell would emerge victorious in the 3-way race. When questioned, Cortes at first said she just wanted to provide an alternative voice, but it was clear in the one interview she did that Cortes didn't have a clue about matters of state. She had no campaign team, no money, no materials; it was impossible to figure out what her platform was, since she refused to host public events or talk to the press.
The media kept pressing the issue when the story really started to smell, and finally the brouhaha found itself in court, where Cortes testified that she didn't know who was paying for her campaign, including the political signs popping up around Mesa. Sadly, she came across like a useful idiot. Judge Burke said the scheme was disgustingly transparent, but he allowed her name to remain on the ballot:
Although the court finds that Cortes was "recruited" to run by [Pearce operative] Western, at the behest of Pearce supporters, to divert votes from Lewis for Pearce's benefit, this court is not convinced that courts should examine and be the final arbiter of the motives political candidates may have for running for election... New TimesOlivia Cortes put the matter to rest when she withdrew from the race almost immediately after the trial exposed the Pearce campaign's dirty tricks, and the strategy backfired big time on the Senator, who never recovered from the very public drubbing. In the Nov. 8 recall election the old buffoon lost by more than 12 points in a district that had elected him six times.
And now one of the men behind the charade is facing an ethics charge.
That's because Russell's brother, Lester Pearce, was a Mesa judge at the time, and he's knee-deep in the Cortes cesspool. He admitted during the media investigations of Cortes that he drove his daughters around Mesa to collect signatures for her candidacy. Stephen Lemons at New Times also revealed last year that the minutes of a GOP district meeting show Lester Pearce speaking on behalf of his brother:
VI. Legislators' ReportsBrahm Resnik at Channel 12 News (video link) notes that the minutes of that meeting have miraculously been amended, to read that Lester Pearce "spoke about the Constitution." Okaaay. Being a judge, Lester surely knows the old minutes, not to mention his help getting Cortes on the recall ballot, are a problem, since the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct says:
1. Don Stapley, Maricopa County Supervisor
2. Justin Olson, AZ House District 19, Justin spoke in support of Senator Russell Pearce and against the recall.
3. Lester Pearce, North Mesa Justice Court - Lester Pearce spoke in support of Senator Russell Pearce and against the recall. New Times
RULE 4.1. Political and Campaign Activities of Judges and Judicial Candidates in GeneralYesterday we learned that the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct is looking into Lester Pearce's role in his brother's recall campaign. That's a particularly messy problem for Lester now, because he resigned his judge's seat in May to run for a spot on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Whoops!
(A) A judge or a judicial candidate shall not do any of the following:...
(2) make speeches on behalf of a political organization or another candidate for public office;
(3) publicly endorse or oppose another candidate for any public office;...
(5) actively take part in any political campaign other than his or her own campaign for election, reelection or retention in office; PDF
The investigation won't help his campaign, which is already struggling. According to Lester's most recent campaign finance report (PDF), it looks like he has a helluva lot of support for his race. He notes $100,223.87 in contributions for a county race. Wow! But then look on page 2 where there's a little note:
a) Loans made by or guaranteed by candidate: $100,000.In other words, Lester has pulled in a whopping $223.87 from the community for his race.
His disgraced and recalled brother, Russell, is also running again for the Senate, this time in a newly drawn district. Like Lester, he's not doing a very good job in the fundraising department, having been out-raised $2,800 to $67,000 by his primary opponent.
You'd think these fundy blowhards would get the message: We don't want you. You won't get our money, you won't get our vote. Just go home! If the courts don't send these criminal peckerheads packing, the voters will.