This just in: Doug Quelland is out.
The decision was apparently passed down today by Administrative Law Judge Thomas Shedden, who agreed with the Clean Elections Commission that the mustachioed Republican should be removed from office.
Quelland is accused of hiring a campaign consultant on the sly to get around Clean Elections limits. And Shedden -- awesomely! -- called his testimony in response to the allegations "non-responsive or convoluted."
Of course, the "Q" isn't taking the hint. His lawyer just told the Arizona Republic that he plans to file a lawsuit challenging the decision. Sigh...
Quelland narrowly beat out Democrat Jackie Thrasher to represent the 10th Legislative District, which covers Glendale and North Phoenix. It's one of the few hotly competitive districts in the state -- and, as we reported earlier this year, was subsequently the victim of more than its fair share of dirty tricks.
And, go figure, Quelland and his cronies did those tricks with public money -- hence the Clean Elections Commission decision that he should be ousted and the judge's subsequent confirmation of it.
Regular readers may remember the judge in this case, Thomas Shedden. He's the same guy who forced Sheriff's Captain Joel Fox to cough up the names of his donors or face a huge fine in the SCA case.
As in that one, Shedden appears to have made the right decision. There was plenty of evidence that Quelland did everything he could to get around Clean Elections' limits, even while accepting the public funding it provided for his campaign.
In essence, Quelland agreed to forgo fundraising to accept public funding for his campaign. But then he hired consultant Larry Davis under the table, paying $15,000 for his work on the campaign.
When Davis blew the whistle, Quelland claimed he'd fired him without making a payment. But bank records showed just the opposite. Meanwhile, Quelland's protestations that Davis did not work on the campaign was contradicted by testimony from just about everybody involved, including Quelland's GOP running mate, former House Speaker Jim Weiers.
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Thrasher, a schoolteacher-turned-politician who lost reelection to Quelland in 2008 by just 553 votes, is running again next fall, in 2010. She issued a statement that Judge Shedden's verdict "confirms my faith in the system. It just doesn't pay to cheat."
We'd like to share her optimism, but we'd also like to remind readers that Thrasher lost out on holding the seat for the last year. And, even when Quelland finally quits, it's the county Supervisors (who are, of course, four-fifths Republican) who get to make an appointment to fill out the remainder of his term.
So even though both the Clean Elections Commission and an unbiased judge found that Quelland cheated, his party will hold the seat regardless of what happens next.
Jackie Thrasher may be too classy to bitch about how unfair all this is. We at Valley Fever, however, are not.