Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery -- who's publicly endorsed Tempe mayoral candidate Michael Monti -- transferred the case involving allegations against Monti's opponent, Tempe Councilman Mark Mitchell, to Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.
The case, as we wrote about yesterday, involves a woman claims Mitchell engaged in some sexual activities with her when she was a kid, and Mitchell was 13 or 14 years old.
The woman contends these incidents occurred in 1983, and she just recently brought this up to the cops.
According to the police report, the woman "expressed that this has been eating at her for years and it has gotten worse lately due to the public exposure of Mitchell at this time as he is a current Tempe City Councilman who is a mayoral candidate for the City of Tempe."
Mitchell, on the other hand, thinks this is a really awful campaign move carried out by Monti supporters.
Mitchell very much denied the allegations, and said it reached "a new low in Tempe politics."
"My opponent started his campaign months ago by smearing me, and he is going to end with what may be the most repulsive last-minute attack in Arizona history," Mitchell said.
On Monday, Mitchell's lawyers from the Phoenix-based Perkins Coie law firm wrote to Montgomery, letting him know it probably wouldn't be the brightest idea for him to handle the case if it was handed over to him, since the county attorney has given his endorsement of Monti.
Some time between then and yesterday, Mitchell's lawyers discovered the case was indeed handed over to the Yavapai County Attorney, and wrote a letter to Polk detailing why they believe the allegations against Mitchell are garbage.
"We urge your Office to decline further action on these allegations, all of which are false and the release of which appears to be a transparent attempt on the part of Mr. Mitchell's political enemies to deprive the voters of Tempe of a fair, honest mayoral election," the letter penned by attorneys Jean-Jacques Cabou and Lee Stein says.
Indeed, it does seem pretty transparent. Mitchell's continuously accused Monti of dirty campaign tactics -- including the release of a police report detailing Mitchell's 1993 run-in with the cops on Mill Avenue -- although Monti and his PR man Jason Rose deny having anything to do with this one.
This started as an anonymous email to some City of Tempe employees, including council members and police, saying that Mitchell was being investigated.
The right-wing Sonoran Alliance blog teased the issue for a while, before it acquired the report and posted it.
The lawyers also point out numerous apparent discrepancies in the woman's story, claiming her accounts "lack the ring of truth," even with "due respect for faded memories."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
"Simply put, neither the abuse nor the confrontation ever happened," the letter to Polk says, as the lawyers ask her to close the investigation as "unfounded."
The probability of Mitchell being charged with anything seems unlikely at this point, but even if the case is thrown in the garbage, it's already been politicized.
"We have graduated from merely trying to damage someone's reputation to actively trying to ruin their life.," Mitchell said. "I trust that voters will see through it."