It's always been my motto that the targets of my verbal swipes should be sharks, not minnows.

But in our era, the Internet is the great leveler, and what's passed off as factual can be as imaginary as leprechauns. A blog on the Huffington Post, or almost anywhere else, is taken with the same credibility as an article in the New York Times.

I'm no Luddite. But if this thing called journalism is to survive, then what we read for news cannot be the equivalent of the alternate realities on display in films like The Matrix or Inception.

So I'm forced to point my rhetorical rifle at minnow Linda Bentley, who "reports" for the picayune Cave Creek publication Sonoran News.

Bentley has a history of being a rabid nativist, a committed birther (even after President Obama released his long-form birth certificate), and a stalwart defender of state Senate President Russell Pearce.

Paying any attention to what Bentley has to say in the right-wing rag she scribbles for would normally be giving her far too much importance.

But her shabbily researched June 15 article, "Pearce Recall Petitions Indicate Massive Voter Registration Fraud," has been bandied about as gospel in the wingnut sections of the blogosphere — despite its glaring inaccuracies.

Such rightist blogs as Seeing Red AZ and Sonoran Alliance have linked to it, and websites for both the Maricopa County GOP and the Arizona Republican Party have reprinted it in its entirety.

Pearce himself, whose recall election is now inevitable because of the efforts of Citizens for a Better Arizona, has disseminated Bentley's misreporting by proxy.

See, the Senate president is "honorary national co-chairman" for the local anti-immigrant organization Ban Amnesty Now.

BAN is run by former Arizona GOP executive director Sean McCaffrey, who has discovered that he can maintain his 501(c)4 nonprofit by sending out near-lunatic e-mail blasts to naive Mexican-haters, asking them to plug in their credit card numbers and give generously to keep illegal immigrants from overrunning America.

McCaffrey is like a lot of moderate Republicans here who've found it advantageous to hate on Hispanic immigrants. And given that our own U.S. Senator John McCain recently blamed illegal aliens (wrongly) for Arizona's current rash of wildfires, BAN is likely rolling in the dough.

In the Valley of the Sun, hate sells. McCaffrey reminds me of a guy I spotted once at a nativist rally who was selling T-shirts with anti-immigrant slogans. I'd actually met the guy before, and he sheepishly admitted that he was selling the bigoted swag because he needed the cash.

But I digress. The point is that McCaffrey regurgitated Bentley's bogus allegation of "massive voter registration fraud" in one of his e-mail blasts to the faithful.

He even went so far as to repeat Bentley's sliming of a woman whom Bentley used as her prime example of "fraud."

The woman's name is Benita Lantigua, a Mesa resident who has been divorced and remarried a couple of times.

Bentley wrote that Lantigua may have committed fraud because there were three "active" listings for her under different names at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office.

Of course, there would have been fraud only if Lantigua had voted under different names or signed the petition under different names.

But county elections director Karen Osborne says Lantigua did neither of these things, that she did nothing wrong.

"I did have staff research it," Osborne told me of the Bentley allegation. "[Lantigua] was on the files [in three places], but she had never voted in the inappropriate name and had not signed the petition dually."

Basically, when Lantigua changed her name, she changed her registration to reflect it. The county sends out three pieces of mail to verify voter listings. If the mail is not returned, the registration remains active.

I asked Osborne about the allegation of "massive voter registration fraud." She called that characterization "inaccurate," based on what she's seen of the petitions.

The elections director did say there were duplicate signatures, meaning some people signed the petition more than once under the same name. This is not fraud. In this case, one signature is counted, and the rest are deemed invalid.

Osborne told me she had not talked to Bentley or anyone from her paper about this specific allegation. Osborne checked the registration after the article was published.

Nor did Bentley quote any county officials in her piece. And, apparently, she did not bother to phone the woman she slimed, even though Lantigua's number is listed.

I know this because I called Lantigua. It was the first she'd heard of the matter. She said she had not been contacted by Bentley, and she had never seen the article in question.

She seemed genuinely befuddled by Bentley's scurrilous allegations.

"I only signed once," she said. "I did not sign [the petition] twice."

She freely acknowledged that she had changed her name because of divorce and remarriage in the past.

Maybe Bentley thinks divorce, remarriage, and changing your name are illegal in Arizona. If so, she should seriously consider joining the Flat Earth Society.

Did Bentley choose Lantigua to pick on because of her Hispanic surname? I don't know, but Bentley does use coded language in her piece, suggesting that some of those who signed were illegal immigrants.

She writes: "There were plenty of other examples of people signing the petition with Latin names who could barely print, let alone sign, claiming a birthplace of Mexico, Guatemala, or 'not provided.'

"Many stated their occupations as 'laborer' or, in some instances, as 'laborers.'"

To be fair, Bentley does mention one — count him, one — signer of the petition with an Anglo last name. This guy's sin? According to Bentley, he misspelled his last name.

To this point, Bentley offered the following clueless passage:

"One man signed and printed his last name 'Peterson' quite legibly. Due to Peterson being somewhat of a common name, it made more sense to look him up by address.

"However, the address revealed the registration of a man whose last name was spelled 'Pederson.'"

Wow, that's some real Sherlock Holmes-style sleuthing there, Linda. If they start prosecuting people for spelling errors, about 99 percent of the population will wind up behind bars. All but preteen winners of spelling bees.

The claim's so lame that I was almost embarrassed to ask Osborne about this one. But due diligence gave me no choice, so I e-mailed Osborne with the query.

"[I] do not have enough info to answer the question," she replied. "Do not have a Peterson/Pederson combination that I could locate. I looked at the article and found no first name. At any rate, we would match the signature and the printing style on his current and past registrations before making the determination."

Bentley smeared this fella, too. But curiously, she did not list his address, as she did with Lantigua.

I don't know enough about libel law to know whether Bentley and those who reprinted her trash are on the hook legally for it.

But Lantigua may not be the only one considering legal action. Sean McCaffrey's made some outrageous stand-alone accusations in BAN e-mail screeds about the recall's organizers. And these have prompted a response from Citizens for a Better Arizona.

Chad Snow, attorney and CBA chairman, fired off a letter last week to Pearce, McCaffrey, and Lisa Hauser, the legal attack schnauzer working on behalf of the pro-Pearce forces.

Snow wrote: "It is one thing to call us 'open borders extremists', 'socialists,' 'anarchists,' the 'open borders cartel,' 'mafia members,' 'thugs' and the like — petty name-calling, while unbecoming of a Senate president, is what we have come to expect from you.

"But when you start disseminating information accusing us of 'supporting massive voter fraud' and 'illegal' activities, you have crossed a line into defamation, which is recognized as a tort in the State of Arizona."

Because we enjoy freedom of speech in this country, as enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, there's a lot of leeway allowed when it comes to political discourse. And this is as it should be.

But Bentley has gone way too far. She even suggested in her article that Lantigua may have committed bigamy.

As this column went to press, I learned that this situation is even uglier than I first thought.

Based on Bentley's sorry reporting, Bentley's boss, Don Sorchych, editor and publisher of Sonoran News, wrote a June 22 editorial saying Lantigua was "likely an illegal."

He wrote: "Bentley found a Mexican woman who has voting rights under three different last names at the same home address. She is likely an illegal also, in which case she has no right to vote. If she is legal, she has a right to vote once, not three times."

Keep in mind that Osborne stated that Lantigua did nothing wrong. She did not double-vote, nor did she double-sign.

I called Lantigua back with Sorchych's claims. She was aghast.

"I've lived in Arizona for like the last 22, 23 years," she told me. "I went through the legal process. I became a permanent resident alien. I waited . . . [and] I became an American citizen."

Lantigua said she has a U.S. passport and works in a local bank. She confirmed that she is considering legal action against Sorchych's paper.

To which, I wish her Godspeed. Because there should be consequences for penning the bunk Bentley and Sorchych do on a regular basis.

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357 comments
arek
arek

The Minnow Bentley (a/k/a "the Acid Queen of Hollywood" according to her former husband) was sued in Federal District Court, 4:12-CV-00876-FRZ. A copy of the lawsuit can be found on my blog under In-justice. I'm told that Bentley recently bought a gun from a MCSO Posse member in a bar in Cave Creek. Linda grew up in LA. and apparently had an appetite for LSD back in the day but it sure you wonder how an acid queen turned into a right wing wacko. I guess she burned out her brain from chronic drug use?

Deany_41
Deany_41

No one should be in this country but it's citizens and those in line to become one. NO ONE. Visitors with proper passports are welcome.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

I would be willing to volunteer my time in any pursuit of legal action against these life-destructive hacks. I am a paralegal and have experience in working on the Arpaio legal defense time in a couple of cases (fly on the wall so to speak) so I know what evil is afoot here - nothing less than facism - I've seen the internal memos and emails PRIOR TO THEM BEING SHREDDED.

The attorneys who represent Arpaio (and probabaly these hacks too) will do and say ANYTHING to help their clients lessen their financial liability - even if it is illegal to do or say - even if it violates our constitution - even if they don't get paid . . . well not that last one, they're only doing that for their money they get from the County taxpayers for their legal bills.

Arek Fressadi
Arek Fressadi

If you are serious about taking down Sorchych and Bentley, send me an email at arek@fressadi.com. Read my blog at fressadi.com and see if your talent can be put to use.

Dawn Suzuki
Dawn Suzuki

Ha! Ha! Ha! - I signed the petition and we are as redneck as they come straight from Arkansas 8 years ago. Money knows no color, all you race hating people need to try working your own business and you will change your attitude overnight.

GREGORY N
GREGORY N

hey russell you "anchor baby" son of illegal aliens!! happy 4th of july!!! LOLYOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF YOU OLD LOOKING "DRUNK"

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TROLL.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Fake mikefrombisbee: Do your friends know that you are a drug informant?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

TFFT, TROLLS FOREVER FOREVER TROLLS. TFFT

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Fake mikefrombisbee: do your "bros" know about your thing for nine-year-olds?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

THE TROLL IS COOL!

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Fake mikefrombisbee: did you and troll share a cell together in PC? That would explain it. Which one of you was the punk? Or did you take turns?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Fuck you Gook I will say or write anything I want on here. ever hear of FREE SPEECH?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

im very mad at the world as you can see.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

You are a very sad, lonely troll imposter who would probably find happiness perusing the kinky personals that involve dogs and whips.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

mental confusion is a way of life for me.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Mental confusion is indeed a way of life for someone who has to steal someone else's name to get attention.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I tend to repeat myself often as you can tell.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

The troll does indeed repeat himself with nothing of interest to say. It is important for Goobers to TRY to silence or discredit those who challenge their shit-talking. If this is your best card,Goober, you have a very small hand.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

my ramblings are nothing of substance either but I like to think of myself as an intellectual NEW TIMES writer and think I have all the answers to life's problems.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

You have way to much time on your hands and no talent except stealing someone else's name. Go play with yourself.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

FUCK ME INSTEAD COZ.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Troll imposter, did you have trouble making friends. Did you wet the bed, start fires and torture animals? That would explain your behavior here.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Notice how slick I am in how I put the SS in RuSSell,s name? im a Nazi SS guy myself. WHITE POWER IN THE GAY WORLD IS ALIVE AND WELL IN BISBEE ARIZONA!

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

The troll is very confused. And in need of friends.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

no those are 1%er bikers that are like that and gays.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

The troll imposter strikes again. Do you notice that no one is responding to you? It's not going to work. But waste your time being a13-year-old.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I am a proud gay hippie male from Bisbee and yes I do have a crush on chad or chadly as I call him.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I take it in my ass and it has fucked up my brain.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

thats weird my middle name is chad and I am gay.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Im hooked on pain pills myself. percodan and didilidid. I love that hillbilly heroin.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I am that gay hippie coffee selling guy in Bisbee from back east. you are correct.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I think Psychbob498th is really {THE TROLL} posing as Psychbob498th. he fooled me once again. DAMN YOUR GOOD! you get me every time dude. you should be an actor.

wherewasi
wherewasi

I also find it funny that if you want to comment on anything you read on the Sonoran News site, you have to email the editor and they will decide whether or not to print your comments. Of course, the only published comments are about how much people love their articles. For such a "patriotic" publication, they sure don't like the idea that citizens have freedom of speech. What a bunch of uptight twats!

wherewasi
wherewasi

The real ironic thing is that if you email them (sonnews@aol.com) they want you to include your full name, address and telephone number so that they can "verify" you. LOL. Pretty crazy stuff since they don't require their writers to verify anything.

wherewasi
wherewasi

Mr. Lemons - I have been keeping an eye on Sonoran News for a retraction of this misinformation and haven't seen anything. Just wondering if you've heard from Ms. Bently on the topic of the lies she told, and if you've heard from Ms. Lantigua with any confirmation as to whether or not she plans to sue Bently and her editors.

LIFE IS
LIFE IS

LIFE = Eat Sleep Work Fuck = LIFE. Nothing Ever Changes, Then Comes Death.

Jason
Jason

You sure about that? I didn't know abuse of power and suing your employer into the poor house was part of the sheriff's position's job description.

Kandylicious
Kandylicious

Russell Pearce will be re-elected.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

he will get my vote and most of the gay vote also. he is awesome!

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Is that a homophobic slur mikebusybody?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

No, it was a wannabe. I think his brain got scrambled when he used product instead of selling it to 13-year-olds. I am flattered that I have a groupie but I wish it wasn't a drug informant.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Come election day, Russell will get it straight up the ass with an erection that bears him no affection.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

in other words you will be the stud that fucks Russells tight smelly ass on election day?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Fake mikefrombisbee: is your mother still working Van Buren for her sweet man from South Phoenix?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

The Goobers have taken the only road they know. They can't compete with ideas so they pull this silly shit.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I bet you also like it straight up your tight Chink Asian Ass to. You sound like you might be the hard erection volunteer that wants to jam your hard cock straight up Russels tight redneck cracker ass.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Fake mikefrombisbee: did you and troll get passed around in the joint? Variety IS the spice of life. And how was PC?

 

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