REINVENTING THE BIG WHEEL

DERAILED BY AZSCAM, DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVE MIKE CRUSA HAS WAGED HIS BEST CAMPAIGN YET---TO SALVAGE HIS OWN CAREER

Arpaio says he didn't need to consult Crusa much during the general campaign because he relied upon what he had learned from Crusa during the primary. He and Crusa did speak occasionally during the general campaign, Arpaio admits. Party loyalists were not pleased when they heard that Crusa was seen eating dinner with Arpaio and his wife on the night of the general election.

The Arpaio campaign was a personal favor, Crusa says. And, he adds, "I view law enforcement as nonpartisan." He won't guarantee that a similar situation won't arise in the future, but says it's unlikely.

@rule:
@body:In the wake of AzScam, Sue Laybe has formed an alliance with a woman who was once her fiercest opponent. Margaret Updike is a conservative Republican Mechamite who was elected to the House of Representatives in District 25 in 1988 along with Laybe. But unlike Laybe, Updike did not win reelection in 1990.

Updike blames her 1990 defeat on AzScam and the money Laybe, one of her opponents, took from Stedino. According to Laybe's own handwritten notes, she pumped at least $3,000 in AzScam bribe money directly into her own campaign and thousands of additional dollars into the Democratic party and other candidates' campaigns. Oddly enough, Updike sees Laybe as an innocent victim. "I know that Sue would not have done anything to jeopardize her office," she says. Instead, Updike holds Mike Crusa partially responsible for her 1990 defeat. She and her husband, Robert, claim Crusa could have laundered the $10,000 Laybe gave him through the Democratic party and into legislative races. Robert Updike has spent months combing campaign records, trying to find and follow that $10,000. This is not the first time Robert Updike has taken on the political establishment. In the early 1970s, while with the Phoenix City Attorney's Office, Updike was a key source in a New Times story that exposed the cover-up of a drunken driving incident involving then-U.S. senator Paul Fannin.

At his otherwise well-ordered central Phoenix home, Updike shuffles through cardboard boxes and piles of papers that spill over the sides of a white coffee table. At 50 cents per page, he's got a small fortune in campaign finance documents copied from originals on file with the secretary of state.

Updike sits back on the sofa, opens Joseph Stedino's book What's In It for Me?, an insider account of AzScam, and points with pride to an inscription on the title page: "To Margaret Updike! Sorry about S.L. May good fortune befall you! Joe Stedino, a.k.a. Tony Vincent! 8/6/92."

Updike taps the page. See? Even Stedino admits that AzScam money ousted Margaret Updike. And someday he will prove that Mike Crusa slipped that extra $10,000 into the party coffers. He drops the book and turns to pile after pile of documents. His voice rises as he flips pages faster and faster, moving along the paper trail. Updike's theory: that the $10,000 Laybe gave Crusa made its way to the campaign records of Project 500 (a national campaign committee) and back to Impact 90 via the state Democratic party. Judson Roberts, who left his position as a Maricopa County prosecutor earlier this year, finally listened to Updike--after Updike pestered him for weeks. Roberts analyzed the campaign records and AzScam transcripts, deciding that there was enough evidence to merit a grand jury investigation that would allow him to subpoena documents and answer Updike's questions.

"I thought it was a very plausible theory that Crusa actually laundered the money through the national party back into the state party," Roberts says.

Gary Ball, a detective with the Phoenix Police Department during AzScam who is now on contract as a special assistant to the county attorney, echoes Roberts' views. "Robert Updike, even though he rambles, is really, really into this. He has some legitimate points," Ball says.

Roberts wrote a memo to County Attorney Richard Romley, recommending an investigation. Romley's response? According to Roberts, "He said you better stop putting this stuff down on paper because people are going to start asking why we don't do something about it." Romley denies having that conversation, and says that he referred the case to the FBI because the allegations involved the national Democratic party. Ball agreed with Romley's move. Roberts didn't. "The reality is, that's his way of burying it," Roberts says.

Romley responds: "Oh, I see. The FBI isn't an appropriate agency."
The FBI returned the documents to Romley last August, six weeks after he referred the case to the bureau. A Justice Department attorney reviewed the documents and determined that there was "no evidence of federal election crime."

Spokespeople for the U.S. attorney and the Arizona attorney general say their offices have been contacted by Updike; they do not intend to investigate. Updike says he's also shared his theory with House Speaker Mark Killian, who served as chairman of the special ethics committee that heard Crusa's testimony. Killian did not return calls from New Times. Representative Lisa Graham, who also served on the committee, says she's heard about Updike's speculation and doesn't think much of it.

She says of Updike, "If it wasn't this, it would be something else."
Graham pauses, then concedes that in her mind, Updike does have a right to be angry. "Clearly, to my mind, Sue Laybe came back to the legislature because of the money they dumped into that race," she says. @rule:

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
 
Loading...