Russell Pearce's Sham Candidate, Olivia Cortes, Withdraws from LD18 Recall Race

Sham candidate no more, Olivia Cortes
Sham candidate no more, Olivia Cortes

Hours before she was to appear at a candidates' forum in Mesa and one day before a second, scheduled evidentiary hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court over her sham campaign, Olivia Cortes this morning officially withdrew her candidacy for state Senate at the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.

SOS spokesman Matt Roberts tells me her name will remain on the ballot, but that notices will be posted at the polls and on the SOS' website advising the public that she no longer is a candidate for office. Votes for her will still count, though.

(You can see Cortes' official statement of withdrawal, here. Roberts says Cortes filed it with the assistance of her ham-fisted Svengali, Greg Western, this a.m.)

By withdrawing her name, Cortes avoids the further embarrassment of the second hearing, where attorneys Tom Ryan and H. Micheal Wright had subpoenaed several witnesses linking Cortes to the campaign of state Senate President Russell Pearce.

These included: Justice of the Peace Lester Pearce (Russell's brother), Republican political operative Constantin Querard, the Senate President's nieces, Megan Sirrine and Shilo Sessions, and Diane Burns, owner of Petition Pros, the company that collected signatures for Cortes.

Ryan said he would now seek to have tomorrow's hearing canceled.

"The Pearce forces did not want this hearing to go forward tomorrow," he told me, "for the same reason I don't order steak at an East Valley Denny's. In both instances, we know it won't go down well."

He added, "We were subpoenaing all the right people. We were closing in on the issue."

Ryan said he would hold a press conference later in the day to discuss the issue further.

Wright, his co-counsel, said it was all part of a deal he and Ryan had offered Cortes' lawyer Anthony Tsontakis before the first hearing where she was forced to testify: i.e., Cortes pulls out and the lawsuit is dropped.

"This morning, they asked if the offer was still open," Wright explained.

Lingering questions remain over state laws allegedly broken in regard to Cortes' candidacy. Was she paid? Who paid for her illegal and insulting "Si, Se Puede" signs? And how could Senator Pearce not know that his family members and supporters were running Cortes as a candidate?

Nevertheless, despite right-wing naysayers who tried to rationalize Cortes' candidacy, such as Espresso Pundit's Greg Patterson, Ryan and Wright have prevailed and prevented a fraud from being further perpetrated on the public. 

They shined a light on the spiders, and the spiders are scurrying.

UPDATE 1:20 PM: Just received an e-mail from Superior Court advising that Friday's hearing has been vacated.

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