Arizona Republicans Declare War on Grandma, Grandma Wins, for Now
So why did Maricopa County Republicans need six reserve sheriff's deputies/posse members, a patrol car, and two plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle to guard a recent Thursday night meeting of mostly alter kocker conservatives?
According to the attendees I chatted with that evening, Maricopa County GOP Chair A.J. LaFaro was petrified that local lefty firebrand Randy Parraz would be storming the Arizona Republican Party headquarters at 24th Street and Osborn Road in Phoenix, where the event was being held.
Of course, neither Parraz nor his followers showed up, and I seriously doubt they cared much about an issue internal to the county GOP.
Initially, the point of this get-together of the county GOP's Executive Guidance Committee was to punish 12 rogue Republican precinct committee-persons, a veritable Republican Dirty Dozen, who allegedly supported Democrats during this year's general election.
A.J. LaFaro, conferring with members of the security team for his Republican Inquisition session on Thursday
As I reported back in October, LaFaro and some other tuskers have stated that they want to strip these errant Republican PCs of their voting rights within the party.
They claim the bylaws back such a move. Though in 2010, former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley issued an opinion on the matter, stating that the bylaws in question ran counter to Arizona's statutes, and so PCs could not be stripped of their voting rights.
In any case, OTRRs (Other Than Registered Republicans) were not allowed in the building for the two hour session. Neither were members of the press.
As soon as I stuck my head in the door, LaFaro reacted like he had two scoops of Mexican jumping beans poured down his britches.
When I said hello and extended my hand to shake his (an involuntary gesture, I assure you), LaFaro jumped back and informed me that he would not shake my hand as he did not approve of me or the paper I wrote for.
He then scrambled out into the parking lot and over to the deputies like his knickers were on fire, informing the bored gendarmes that I was not allowed on the premises.
So I stood on the sidewalk and hobnobbed with people as they entered and left the building.
I should mention that MCSO spokesman Joaquin Enriquez later informed me that the po-po present were either off-duty reserve deputies or posse members who volunteer for such events.
Other than yours truly, there were no other media types around. Nor were there any OTRRs.
Fortunately, I had several friends inside, one of whom later provided me with an audio recording of the two hour meeting.
Republican PC Barbara Espinosa, from a 2004 campaign event for George W. Bush
The Republican Dirty Dozen include folks like Susan Charlton, wife of former U.S. Attorney and prominent GOPer Paul Charlton, lifelong Republican attorney Garvey Biggers and Scottsdale blogger, radio show host and grandmother Barbara Espinosa, a longtime Republican activist, who has given $40,000 to Republicans over the past few years by her own estimation.
Disenchanted with GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Ducey, Espinosa endorsed Democrat Fred DuVal in the general election for governor and donated money to DuVal's campaign coffers.
After LaFaro went on a witch-hunt, asking GOPers to report fellow Rs known to be fraternizing with the enemy, Espinosa ratted herself out, daring LaFaro and his rabid bunch to take action, which is how the Texas-born grandma ended up on the chopping block Thursday.
When called upon to defend herself at the meeting, Espinosa gave the assembled Republicans an earful, reminding them of GOP governor-elect Doug Ducey's family's ties to organized crime.
In the recording I obtained, you can almost hear the gasps from the crowd as Espinosa lays it all out.
"I won't deny that I endorsed Fred DuVal," Espinosa explained to her fellow pachyderms. "I had a choice. My choice was to go along with a Republican candidate who openly admitted that his family was, indeed -- how was it put? -- an organized crime family.
"[Ducey's] father that he talked about being a cop was his biological father. His [surname] Ducey was [from] his first stepfather who adopted him. When he was asked a question [about his name], he refused to answer it.
"I chose the candidate whose father was a doctor [DuVal], and helped start Tucson Medical Center...So, you know, sue me."
She recounted the donations she's doled out to Rs over the years, and then let 'em have it, right between the eyes.
"What you're saying to Republicans [is], if there's a drug cartel member that is a Republican and a minister that's a Democrat, by damn, you've got to go with the Republican. I'm not doing it."
This garnered loud applause from at least one member of the audience.
LaFaro as he appears in nature, wrapper and all...
Biggers, who also backed DuVal, spoke about how his own grandmother helped start the Arizona Republican Party, and how she had been tight with such Arizona GOP legends as Harry Rosenzweig and U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater.
Biggers mentioned that DuVal was a close personal pal, and that he supported him mainly because of their friendship.
He then related how he had tried to raise his children to be Republicans, but that he had not been 100 percent successful in this regard.
Still, if one of them were running for office, he would support them, obviously.
"If my kid was a Democrat [and was running for office], that bylaw would put a sock in my mouth," he said. "That bylaw is anti-family, it is anti-First Amendment, it is anti-American in every way, and it is anti-Republican and it is anti-freedom."
Biggers went on to invoke Ronald Reagan's famous 11th commandment: Speak no ill of a fellow Republican.
"There's a lot of people in this room that spoke ill of fellow Republicans during that primary," Biggers stated. "And some of those ice-cream ads [against Ducey] are still running in the general.
"I spoke no ill toward a Republican when I handed a check to Fred DuVal. So I'd say, word to the wise is, let's handle this in-house. Beat me if you want to. Flog me. But I am as Republican as anybody in this room. That's all I got."
There was a lot of discussion of how some Republicans had supported non-Republicans for the Gilbert Public School governing board, though the school board election was non-partisan.
Non-partisan or not, many of the PCs on hand said GOP PCs are responsible for sniffing out non-Rs, outing them, and of course, not supporting them in any way or fashion.
One unidentified jerk rose to excoriate any Republican who would dare to go against the party bylaws, no matter how inane they might be.
"With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, censorship does not go deep enough," he said, adding, "There needs to be sound and clear consequences. Censorship is not enough."
Hey, who knew the Republicans had their own ayatollahs?
Some of the "rogue" Republicans were represented at the meeting by attorney Kory Langhofer.
Langhofer argued that removing someone's voting rights would be illegal, and that the bylaws in question were open to interpretation.
"What kind of party do you want to be?" Langhofer asked at one point. "You guys decide what these bylaws mean...Do you want to be the party that chases people out for violating a rule that doesn't clearly say what [the chairman] says it means?"
Former gubernatorial contender Christine Jones also was on hand, and gave a passionate speech about how some of her fellow Rs backstabbed her during the GOP primary for governor.
"Look, nobody...in this room is more entitled to want to support a Democrat than me," she said.
"The Republicans, not the Democrats, accused me of committing a crime by impersonating an Air Force officer, which by the way I didn't do. Accused me of not working in a prosecutors office, which by the way I did for three years. Accused my husband of not having fought in combat, which by the way he did for two full combat tours in Vietnam, and on and on and on."
She said both DuVal and Democratic candidate for state Attorney General Felecia Rotellini sought her endorsement, but she didn't give it to them.
Still, Jones urged a note of caution, and asked that they walk out of the room united, even if it meant some of the PCs "engage in some sort of community service to pay us back."
That got her some chuckles. She also urged against the "circular firing squad."
Which, I would say, the Dems usually are far better at.
LaFaro seemed concerned about the very real possibility of being sued by anyone they punished, and stated early on that, contrary to his druthers, he would not be suggesting that the PCs' voting rights be removed.
Rather, he would be looking to censure some of the Dirty Dozen.
He even admitted that the MCRC bylaws "may be in conflict with the Arizona Revised Statutes."
Ultimately, the issue was tabled till the next EGC meeting.
Considering the county GOP treasurer's report during the meeting, indicating that the MCRC had a mere $15,603 on hand, it would seem prudent that the Rs square-file LaFaro's genius idea for an inquisition.
Literally, the county GOP cannot afford LaFaro's shenanigans.
Which may be one reason LaFaro will not be running for re-election in January.
Nor will he be running for election to the state party chairmanship, despite the "groundswell" among those trying to "recruit" him to run, he explained at the end of the meeting.
Should he change his mind, it would be a battle to the death between LaFaro and current state party chair Robert Graham.
LaFaro has garnered other legal challenges during his tenure, like a recent lawsuit for his remarks dissing a Latino campaign worker taking mail-in ballots to the county elections office.
Then there was the time LaFaro falsely accused Espinosa of "criminal activity."
She was in the right and had the cash to go to court. The county party did not.
Don't get me wrong. I endorsed LaFaro back in January 2013, when he first ran for MCRC chair.
And to judge from LaFaro's win two years ago my support of LaFaro was quite helpful.
Yep, LaFaro owes me, like some folks owe the rent.
Granted, I endorsed him for my own selfish reasons. Right-wing fanatics are my bread and butter. Without 'em, I'd be out of business.
It will be sad to see the pugnacious, lumpen LaFaro exit stage right, though he insisted at the meeting that he planned to stay on as "chairman emeritus."
Where will Maricopa County find a walking PayDay bar on par with Chairman Mao, um, I mean, LaFaro?
Oh, I ain't worrying. There are more Republican nuts out there where he came from.
In Arizona, they practically grow 'em on trees.
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