See also: Stauffer Must Exit Sheriff's Race or Forever Be the Goat See also: Mike Stauffer's Third-Wheel Bid for Sheriff May Keep Arpaio in Office See also: Is Mike Stauffer Joe Arpaio's Stooge? (Answer: Yes.) See also: Joe Arpaio on the Run from Paul Penzone, Mike Stauffer the Goat in New Poll (w/Update) See also: Joe Arpaio Stooge Mike Stauffer a "Republican Candidate," Writes West Kenyon, Campaign Manager (w/Update)
Is Republican-turned-Independent sheriff's candidate Mike Stauffer simply Sheriff Joe Arpaio cat's paw? Or is something even more sinister at play?
Not too long ago, while Stauffer-shill West Kenyon was still taking my calls, I pointedly asked him where Stauffer got $40,000 to lend his campaign, and thereby pay for the assistance of a professional signature-gathering service.
"It's his money," said Kenyon of the $40K. "He lent himself $40,000."
Without that $40K, Stauffer, who was once secretary of the old Legislative District 7 GOP while Kenyon was its chair, would not now be on the general election ballot.
But where did Stauffer come by $40K? Did he cash out all or part of a 401K? Did he have it in coffee cans buried in his backyard?
"I don't know where he got the $40,000 from," Kenyon said of Stauffer. "He has $40,000. He's funding his own campaign...From what I know, it's his money."
Kenyon declined to ask his candidate and get back to me with an answer. But I'll concede that Stauffer may have been able to find $40,000 in liquidity. Though, according to public records, he's hardly wealthy.
As a Scottsdale Police lieutenant, Stauffer made a little over $106,000 per year, according to his personnel file. Zillow.com lists Stauffer's single family Cave Creek home, built in 1995, at about $327,000.
For tax purposes, the Maricopa County Assessor values the same property at $230,000.
Stauffer's financial disclosure statement with the county, filed in May, notes that he incurred debts over $1,000 as of January of this year from two sources, Fidelity Investments and ICMA Retirement. Perhaps this is the origin of the $40K.
Still, why throw away $40K on a race that you know you're going to lose, $40K that you will not get back? That is, unless someone plans to help you out in that regard.
"Actually, I think [Stauffer] has a very good chance [of winning]," Kenyon remarked without laughing.
Granted, our conversation occurred a couple of weeks before a poll commissioned by the Penzone camp revealed that Stauffer was pulling a little over eight percent, in fourth place behind "none of the above."
As pathetic as that eight percent is, it's enough to make "Single-Digit" Stauffer the spoiler. The same poll shows Penzone 5.5 points away from catching Arpaio.
Which is why Randy Parraz, co-founder of Citizens for a Better Arizona, regards Stauffer as "Olivia Cortes on steroids," referring to the infamous sham candidate who emerged during the successful 2011 recall of ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce, with the intent of siphoning votes from Pearce's rival, state Senator Jerry Lewis.
"They went a little bit further this time," Parraz speculated of dark forces he believes are pulling Stauffer's strings. "Stauffer is actually interested in getting as much press as he can, versus Olivia who just wanted to stay out of the limelight."
As far as Parraz and many others opposed to Arpaio are concerned, the raison d'etre for Stauffer's campaign is to "splinter" the vote, taking just enough away from Arpaio's Democratic opponent Paul Penzone to hand Joe a win.
"This is Sheriff Arpaio's dream come true," Parraz contended. "An Independent candidate who just by being on the ballot will take some of that anti-Arpaio vote away from Paul Penzone."
Parraz pointed out that Stauffer is not in it to win it. Stauffer and Kenyon are running a "campaign" with no infrastructure, and almost no money. One that produces bush-league Youtube videos, like its most recent montage of still photos, which makes amateurish trash such as "The Innocence of Muslims" look like a Christopher Nolan flick by comparison.
The trick will be educating the public that "a vote for Stauffer is a vote for Arpaio." To this end, CBA has 100 paid canvassers knocking on doors throughout the county, informing potential voters that Stauffer is Arpaio's stooge.
Pictured above is the door hanger CBA's army is distributing, a take-off of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with Stauffer as "the ugly," natch.
Parraz says his group will begin kicking into high gear by the end of September, as early voting begins October 11.
"We take votes away from Stauffer every day," he said of CBA's efforts.
One of CBA's major goals is to grind away at Stauffer, eroding his support so that he becomes a non-factor in the race.
In the Pearce recall, Cortes ultimately polled little more than one percent. Her effect on the outcome was negligible. But that was only after she had been exposed as a fraud by the media and had been dragged into court with her accomplices.
Stauffer is more entrenched than Cortes ever was and more dangerous because, as Parraz observes, he desires earned media, unlike Cortes, who was content to remain secluded until forced into daylight by a court action.
Cortes, like Stauffer, was a Republican, whose diversionary candidacy served another Republican's interests.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
"I'm a registered Republican," Kenyon explained to me during our last chat. "Mike's been a registered Republican up until...a year and a half ago."
More like a year, actually, but who's counting? Chances are, Stauffer will be an R again when the election is over. Meanwhile, he's doing fellow Republican Joe Arpaio a serious solid.
On a related note, check out the new independent expenditure committee targeting Joe, which is run by Democratic state Representative Ruben Gallego: