Below is a letter e-mailed today from Democratic precinct committeeman Robert McDonald to Arizona Elections Director Amy Bjelland requesting an investigation into the ongoing scandal surrounding apparent shill candidate Olivia Cortes, who is "running," if you can call it that, in Legislative District 18 recall of state Senate President Russell Pearce.
McDonald, as some of you may remember, lost a tight race in the LD 18 Democratic primary against Andrew Sherwood for the party's 2010 nomination for state Senate. He goes over much familiar ground in his letter and draws his own conclusions. I am simply presenting it here as a part of the public record.
The letter raises some intriguing allegations. For the record, both Pearce and Cortes have denied they are involved in promoting a sham candidacy.
Nothing, of course, should surprise us. Politics embraces duplicity like an old roue embracing a familiar harlot. That truism goes back even further than the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, for whom falsehood was a tool to be employed like a sharpened dagger.
I'll be eager to read Bjelland's response to this letter. I've asked the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, where Bjelland is employed, for an official statement. And I will post it if and when I receive one.
There's been talk in some circles of filing possible civil suit, perhaps by an LD 18 voter, in order to draw some or all of the players into court. Whether or not this will materialize or if such a suit is even possible, remains to be seen. Though, putting people under oath is a tantalizing prospect.
As I've mentioned before, it is deathly important for the Spanish-language press to shine as much light on the Cortes scandal as possible. All means of informing Latino voters of the truth of what's going on in Mesa should be employed.
There are less than two months left till November 8. Should Cortes' candidacy affect the outcome of a tight race, I know a lot of people who will permanently ticked off. Including myself.
September 19, 2011
Ms. Amy Bjelland
Election Service Director
State of Arizona
Office of the Secretary of State
Capitol Executive Tower, 7th Floor
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007‐2888
Dear Ms. Bjelland:
As a voter and resident of Mesa Legislative District 18, I write this letter to request an investigation into the recall election campaign of Olivia Cortes who is running for the Arizona State Senate and into the group Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall. There are many anomalies present in the way that Ms. Cortes has run her campaign. Some of my concerns, as well as other voters and residents of Mesa, include the signs Ms. Cortes' campaign has posted within Legislative District 18, which do not include any contact information or who had paid for them or any campaign related information. Another concern includes the way Ms. Cortes is funding her campaign. Initially, Ms. Cortes stated that she would be running as a Clean Elections candidate only to fail in returning her $5.00 contributions as required by the Clean Elections Law. Since Ms. Cortes has not had any fundraisers or has solicited any donations how is she funding this campaign? How is she able to afford paid circulars with no campaign funding?
Additional concerns include not making herself available to the media or to anyone wanting to question her about why she wants to run for this office. When her listed address is approached a woman who looks identical to available pictures of Ms. Cortes states she is not available or not at home. Why is she refusing to talk to voters, what is she hiding? I also bring up the concern of the manner of how her petitions were passed out by "volunteer" circulars who were giving misleading information about why Ms. Cortes and the reasons she is running. A video that was recorded during a Legislative District 19 meeting that was held last week shows former Republican LD 19 Chair Pat Oldroyd and Pearce supporter Dan Grimm admitting that they circulated petitions on Ms. Cortes' behalf and then lie about it to the media including the Arizona Capital Times and the Arizona Republic.
Another concern is when she is asked for any volunteer opportunities for her campaign she has stated by a note posted on her door that no help or volunteers are needed. This is completely odd. It is also a concern that Ms. Cortes did not submit her petitions in person but instead had a documented Pearce supporter and current President of the East Valley Tea Party Greg Western submitted those signatures on Ms. Cortes' behalf. Again, this is completely odd. In a taped interview Mr. Western stated that he helped Ms. Cortes with her campaign because "she was in it to win it", however audio from another video tape shows that Mr. Western only helped Ms. Cortes to split the vote in this recall election and Mr. Western's wife is heard stating that he was a proud Russell Pearce supporter. The evidence of fraud both by Ms. Cortes and others in the Arizona Republican Party in Legislative Districts 18 and19 as well as the East Valley Tea Party is overwhelming.
As you may be well aware Citizens for a Better Arizona has stated publicly that they suspect Ms. Cortes is a sham candidate recruited by the Pearce campaign and by Matt Tolman's Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall and the East Valley Tea Party. As an elected precinct committeeman for Maricopa County, I do not and cannot speak for Citizens for a Better Arizona but I do share their concerns that Ms. Cortes is a sham candidate being used by the anti‐recall effort to thwart a legally binding and legally obtained recall election against Sen. Pearce by qualified voters in Mesa Legislative District 18. I also will add that it is not a stretch to possibly implicate Sen. Pearce in this fraud being committed with his knowledge and in his name by close friends and supporters despite his denials to the contrary
The conduct being used by the anti‐recall effort is outrageous, irresponsible, and most definitely criminal. The evidence is way too substantial and documented to be a coincidence. Some of the evidence that has been made publicly against the group Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall include posting signs that are in violation of election laws by not stating contact information and attacking a private citizen who is not a political candidate in this recall election.
Also it is documented that the anti‐recall effort has been posting blatant lies and misinformation on the internet even to the point of opening up a fake Twitter account that claimed to be from one of the opponents in this recall.
I write this letter because I am fed up with this conduct. I am upset and disappointed that the anti‐recall effort is trying anything and everything to scuttle this legal election and denying the people a right to say who will represent them in the Arizona State Senate.
I have reason to believe that Ms. Cortes is committing election fraud by being a sham candidate. I further believe that Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall and the East Valley Tea Party is also committing election fraud by recruiting Ms. Cortes to run in this election to split the vote and allow Sen. Pearce to remain in office. I further more believe that Sen. Russell Pearce has direct knowledge of this fraud and is approving it with his silence on the matter.
I understand that these are serious charges that I mount but I believe that they are correct just based on the documentation, the videos shot, and personal experiences. This is why I am asking for an investigation into Olivia Cortes, Matt Tolman and Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall, the East Valley Tea Party, and Mr. Greg Western and Sen. Russell Pearce for the crimes of election fraud, campaign finance violations and other criminal and civil violations that your office may find.
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Thank You for your cooperation in this matter.
Robert Hernandez McDonald Jr. (D‐Mesa)
Mesa 031 Precinct Committeeman