Robert Meza, Democratic State Senator, Threatens DREAMer With Defamation Lawsuit, Campaigners Say
Meza, who is openly gay, claims Tony Valdovinos, a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant, made some "derogatory remarks about [my sexuaility]" and called him an "evil monster" while canvassing for Teran in West Phoenix.
"If you're on the trail for your candidate you should behave in a professional manner," Meza recalls telling Valdovinos in a July 3 phone conversation. "What happens when you give false attacks on people...that's defamation of character and... in those situations people can be sued."
The senator claims some of his constituents told him that they heard Valdovinos make the offensive comments while the volunteer was knocking on doors for his opponent.
Valdovinos denies he made fun of Meza being gay or referred to him a monster, but does confirm that he received a call from him. According to Valdovinos, during the phone conversation Meza threatened to bring a lawsuit against him, never explaining why.
"I just have been telling people the truth," Valdovinos says. "Look, this guy [Meza] has the worst voting record, he doesn't stand up for our community, and that's part of the reason people don't know who he is."
Meza didn't elaborate on what the alleged "derogatory remarks" were and wouldn't name the people who told him about Valdovinos' comments.
"[Valdovinos] said I had done something in the past that was inappropriate," Meza explains. "I would have to clear it with the person who told me [to share it]."
Terán says that she respects Meza's sexual preference, but that he is simply lying about Valdovinos' comments, because the incumbent fears losing his Senate seat.
"If Senator Meza has a problem with our campaign he needs to come talk to me directly," Terán stated.
Valdovinos is part of a group known as Team Awesome, an organization of young, undocumented college students who volunteer for pro-immigrant candidates such as Teran.
State Senator Steve Gallardo, who backs Terán's campaign, says that Meza has a history of not telling the truth.
"Robert [Meza] will say and do anything to keep his job, including making up stories," Gallardo says.
Meza dismissed the entire episode as being the result of Valdovinos' "immaturity," saying that he would be sure to stay away from the young man's "drama" in the future.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.