Facebook Spat: Did Bill Montgomery Get Gubernatorial Candidate Noah Dyer Fired?

Arizona governor candidate Noah Dyer claims Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery got him fired.
Arizona governor candidate Noah Dyer claims Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery got him fired.
Noah Dyer, the 2018 Arizona gubernatorial candidate best known for his adult-themed oversharing, is accusing Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of getting him fired from a local advertising firm.

Dyer made the claim on Thursday in a video and on Facebook, causing Montgomery to take to the keyboard several times to defend his honor.

"What you've done is made false claims and now you['re] stuck," Montgomery said in one of several Facebook zingers to Dyer on Thursday. "I've debated marijuana policy with far more able individuals than yourself and never called their employers. You're just not that special."

"I've debated marijuana policy with far more able individuals than yourself and never called their employers. You're just not that special." — Bill Montgomery

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It was one of those Facebook threads that spurs people to post GIFs of Michael Jackson munching popcorn. Phoenix New Times got into it, asking Dyer for some evidence of his claims. After a dramatic announcement that he'd reveal more details on Monday, Dyer changed his mind and decided instead to offer an explanation of the incident only to New Times.

He stuck to his story in an interview on Tuesday, and hasn't apologized or unpublished his accusations. The public must trust his word on this one — but that shouldn't be too hard: Dyer is the candidate with "nothing to hide," according to The Atlantic. Another news site wonders if he's not "the most honest candidate in the America."

Dyer, now an unemployed advertising exec, began his bid to challenge incumbent Governor Doug Ducey early last year as a virtual unknown. Running as a Democrat, Dyer received nationwide media attention after published online confessions about his advocacy of open relationships, and his experience with "group sex" and sex with married women. A few years before, he was making videos like, "From Mormon Missionary to Agnostic Manwhore." In 2012, Dyer called himself an "anti-privacy activist" and tried to raise $700,000 by filming his every move for an entire year. He ended the fundraiser with $1,087 in donations.

Dyer occasionally hits the right rhetorical tones, but his vision for reforming state government often lacks substance. For instance, to raise money for education, he wants to tap $13 billion in tax "loopholes." That's Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia's idea, too. Trouble is, as Arizona Republic columnist Rob Robb pointed out recently, 90 percent of the "loopholes" are mandatory sales tax exemptions for things like food and drugs. Even if he could find the money, though, Dyer wouldn't necessarily use it to boost teacher pay — he claims they make too much already.

Dyer switched his party affiliation to Independent last July, frustrated with the lack of support for his campaign by the state Democratic Party. State campaign finance records show he's raised $51,048.72 in the past year or so, nearly all of which came from loans by Dyer and two of his brothers to the campaign. Dyer made a video on April 8 describing himself as "the smart conservative" in the race.

In the video, Dyer discusses his belief that cannabis should be legalized and taxed, and he skewers the state's three biggest cannabis prohibitionists: Montgomery, Ducey, and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.

"These guys have orchestrated a reign of terror over Arizona ..." Dyer says in the video.

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Noah Dyer for Governor
According to Dyer, a few weeks after he published the video — which drew 929 views on Facebook and 81 views on YouTube — Montgomery intervened. The video shows President Trump's face morphing into Montgomery's, with the text "You're Fired!" overlaid on the image — an ironic touch since the Republican county attorney is an anti-Trumper.

"He called my boss and intimidated him into firing me from my day job," Dyer goes on in the video.

He told New Times he was shocked at Montgomery's heavy-handed tactic, and that it followed a period of optimism at the company during which he and the owners had discussed "succession planning" that might have seen Dyer "buying into the business." He'd worked for On Advertising for about three years at the time, he said.

Not long after Dyer made the claim on Facebook, Montgomery caught wind of it and left his first reply: "I don't know you, never saw your video, and don't know where you do/did work, let alone ever called your employer. But if you want to run a campaign on fiction, have at it."

Dyer reminded the county attorney that he was talking to someone who had "received national and international press coverage early in my campaign for my legendary levels of transparency and honesty. I didn't throw away my biggest and most widely known asset just to make this video."

"C'mon Noah Dyer," Montgomery baited him. "Date/time of firing or call. I still don't know who you work(ed) for."

A Facebook user who said he was a longtime cop asked Dyer to cough up some evidence of his claims. After a little more back-and-forth, including Montgomery's "you're not that special" quip, Dyer told the online group that he'd provide details no later than Monday.

"Cut the nonsensical suspense," Montgomery said. "Tell us, right now: what exactly was said to you, by whom, and the date/time ... [H]ere's the right way forward, apologize for being mistaken and go on your way."

"Making these sorts of false allegations is serious, Noah," said another Facebook user, Richard Moorhead. "There is no way you can be Governor if you make these sorts of claims and do nothing to substantiate them."

Dyer later told Moorhead he shared his "evidence" with New Times.

Dyer did sent a lengthy letter to New Times, and also answered questions on Tuesday.

His story boils down to this: On Advertising's president and founding partner is Ron Meritt, who worked on Montgomery's first campaign in 2010 and was Montgomery's campaign manager for his successful re-election bid in 2016. Montgomery, as a politician, is one of the company's clients. According to On Ad's client list, so is the office of the Maricopa County Attorney and other local governmental entities and agencies.

Given that Montgomery's such an important client, it's understandable why Meritt and his partners might have been miffed at Dyer's publicly released April video bashing the politician. Yet Dyer said that's not the case. He says Meritt has no problem with the video or Dyer's stance on cannabis.

Meritt didn't return a call on Tuesday.

Whatever Meritt's views, On Advertising's management team asked Dyer to resign soon after the video aired, according to Dyer.

At end of a meeting on April 24, "they shared that they had received a 'distressing' call from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office over the weekend and that the County Attorney was angry about my video," Dyer wrote in his explanation to New Times. "Ownership said that they really didn’t want to, but based on a recent renewal of their agreement with MCAO and some pending additional business they were seeking, they didn’t see any way out of the situation except to ask me to resign. They were composed but obviously emotional as they said it."

Dyer admitted that he didn't know for certain if Montgomery called On Advertising, or if one of his assistants did. He doesn't see much of a distinction and doesn't see a need to correct or clarify what he's published about Montgomery.

"I feel very confident in my claim," he said.

Some Facebook users have shared his story.

"Low-level, pathetic politics," Scottsdale resident Beits Eitan Livneh wrote on the social media site last week, linking his post to Montgomery's Facebook page. "I can't believe he did that! Noah Dyer — I love you[r] response! I'm really looking forward to have somebody with dignity and fair game in office!"

Montgomery shot back: "What's really pathetic is inventing facts and trying to run a campaign on fiction. I don't know Noah Dyer. I've never seen his video. I don't know where he does/did work so I could never call his employer. Maybe he was just a bad employee?"

Dyer acknowledged that being unemployed isn't helping his substantial debt load, which is another problem from his private life that he's aired publicly. He's previously admitted he's struggling to pay back more than $90,000 in student loans, but has a plan to pay it back within 15 years. Dave Ramsay he is not, but he says he's ready to oversee the state's $10 billion budget as its governor.

First, he has to raise more money for his campaign, something that'll be tougher without a job. But his plan now includes asking for donations because of his fight with Montgomery.

"Let’s show Bill that strong arm tactics won’t make his cannabis policies more effective or more popular," Dyer wrote on one of his campaign website pages. "I’m going to send him a dozen green roses as a gesture of goodwill. With your help, we can turn my bouquet into an armful, a wheelbarrow’s worth, or even a truckload."

"It is not my personal mission to bring Bill Montgomery down," Dyer said, which must be a great relief for Montgomery. "I wanted to tell my story to galvanize the cannabis community."

Dyer appears ready to move on from the controversy already, posting something more lighthearted on his Facebook page on Wednesday: "I've discovered a conspiracy to keep people with beards from becoming State Governors. Help me fight back!"
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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.