Senator Robert Meza, A Phoenix Democrat, Explains Close Ties with Pot-Lovin', Arpaio-Huggin' Republican Operatives
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As unlikely as it is for liberal Latino student volunteers to actively campaign against Robert Meza, a state senator who is both a Latino and a Democrat -- Meza has just as unlikely a connection with outspoken Republican operatives Jason and Jordan Rose.
Meza says he's known Jordan Rose of the Rose Law Group since her days as a Democrat, and attended the couple's wedding.
And instead of taking flack for such ties, Meza says he should be credited for helping to "neutralize" the couple.
Jason Rose chuckles at the notion. (Although he does admit to hosting a fundraiser for Aguila Youth Leadership Institute, a mentoring program for Latino students.)
"I agree with Meza on very little, politically," Rose says. "But he is a great human being."
The combined client list of Jordan Rose's Rose Law Group and Jason Rose over the years has included some not-too-Latino-friendly right-wingers such as former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona's harsh anti-immigrant laws who was booted out of office during a recall election. Also on the list, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and border hawk/failed Congressional candidate Paul Babeu.
As they say, politics make for strange bedfellows. And particularly strange for someone who represents a mostly Hispanic west Phoenix district.
But then you toss in a little mota (Spanish slang for marijuana), and that's when the real fun begins.
Meza served as the chairman for Don't Let Medical Marijuana Die, a legal defense fund set up by the Rose Law Group.
The goal of the now-defunct group was to "advance and defend policies that promote the continuing legality of the use of medical marijuana, fund related litigation efforts, and encourage public engagement on that issue." (That's about all that's left on the group's Facebook page.)
Meza also served as a fundraiser for this "legal defense fund formed to protect the rights of Arizona voters," according to a 2011 press release issued by the Rose Law Group.
The law firm represents many clients with interests in medical marijuana.
While he chaired the group pledging to uphold voter's right as Governor Jan Brewer and other lawmakers were chipping away at Proposition 203, a voter-approved initiative to legalize medical marijuana, Meza wasn't completely on board as a lawmaker.
Meza supported at least two anti-Prop 203 measures that aimed to create a database of individuals registered as users of medical marijuana, and expanded who had access to that database.
In fact, he cast a "no" vote on one of the measures, but after it failed to get a needed two-thirds approval from lawmakers -- he changed his vote. And it passed.
Yet, a month later, Meza -- through this effort with Rose Law Group -- was again pro-Prop 203.
He says that he changed his vote on the anti-medical marijuana measures because he received calls from his constituents urging him to do so. But that urging didn't stop him from moving forward as chairman of Don't Let Medical Marijuana Die.
Meza says save-pot fund folded because financial donations weren't coming in.
A spokesman for Rose Law Group says the organization only raise $100.
Meza tells New Times he was never paid for those efforts, and since it went nowhere, he didn't bother to list his role as chairman for the group on his 2012 financial disclosure statement -- which is required by law.
Meza is running for a senate seat in Legislative District 30 against Raquel Teran, a community organizer who believes that Meza hasn't done a good enough job representing the Latino community.
The two will face off on August 28.
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