Daddy's Little Girl

As far as whoppers go, Congressman Ed Pastor's explanation was right up there with "the check's in the mail" and "I'll call you tomorrow."

When asked earlier this month whether he was using his influence to raise money for his daughter's Phoenix City Council campaign, the congressman shrugged. "I don't know who's giving (to Laura)," the Arizona Republic quoted him as saying.

Yeah, right. And that really is chicken in your teriyaki bowl.

If you ask me, his attitude is positively insulting. Everyone knows that people are supporting Laura Pastor's City Council candidacy mainly because they like her dad, and/or want to stay on his good side. (Hey, the guy's a Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee!) And everyone knows that Laura Pastor is getting money solely from Texas oilmen and Washington, D.C. lobbyists because of her father. That's the game.

But if Ed Pastor is condescending enough to think we don't know what's going on, I'm going to have to call him on an inconvenient truth or two.

On June 21, seven weeks before the Republic's story, Congressman Pastor was the honorary host of a fundraiser for his daughter at the Democratic National Committee.

Pastor's cohosts included fellow congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Tucson — and no fewer than a dozen D.C. lobbyists. The lobbyists work for big-deal firms that represent Wal-Mart, Boeing, and Honeywell. These are people with every reason to curry favor with Ed Pastor and very little reason to care about the Phoenix City Council.

And if you don't believe Ed Pastor knew exactly who was coming to the party, get this:

Guests were asked to RSVP to the congressman's home phone number.

So Ed Pastor is trying to claim that he has no idea who's giving to his daughter's race, even though they called his house to RSVP for a fat-cat fundraiser.

He must think we're idiots.

Then again, Pastor's daughter, the aspiring councilwoman, actually stated at a public debate last week that the "most influential" book she'd ever read was a book for 3-year-olds called Brown Bear, Brown Bear. (Sample line: "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a redbird looking at me.")

I've given up hoping that local politicians will take inspiration from John Stuart Mill, but really, can't they at least stick to chapter books?

The fact is, three good candidates are running for the District Seven council seat. Michael Nowakowski was supposed to be the heir apparent, at least until Pastor threw in her hat. Endorsed by the firefighters and the cops, he's worked with Cesar Chavez, run the Santa Rosa neighborhood council in his district, and co-chaired the most recent bond committee for historic improvements. Ruth Ann Marston runs the Phoenix Elementary School Board. Art Harding is a deputy superintendent at the state department of education and, for a long shot, is surprisingly sharp on the issues.

And then there's the fourth candidate, Laura Pastor, who has the most money (thanks to Daddy) and the best name recognition (thanks to Daddy) . . . and just about no other reason to vote for her.

If she ends up winning this thing, she'll be proving her father right. We really may be idiots.

I wanted to talk to Laura Pastor long before I knew about the Washington fundraiser. I began trying nearly a month before last week's debate.

But even though I called and e-mailed and then e-mailed again, I never got a single person on her campaign to acknowledge my interest. Not even a low-level flack — and this at an extremely well-financed organization. Word on the street is that there are four paid staffers at headquarters, and that's not even counting the three big-name consultants on the payroll.

Still, no love for New Times. Sigh.

Since they were blowing me off, I turned to the official record: personal disclosure forms that all candidates for city council must file showing their assets and debts. I didn't get any further on that front. And that's because Pastor claimed that she didn't really have any assets — no business, no property, no service on any board of directors.

As it turns out, Pastor didn't fill out her forms properly. She actually does own a home on Thomas Road. (For all I know, she's on a few nonprofit boards, too. When you catch mistakes this obvious, you really start to wonder.)

Pastor's sloppiness on those official papers, combined with the blow-off on an interview, got me wondering what this campaign was about. Pastor has raised more than $200,000, and no one can return my call, even to explain she's too busy to talk? She's paying a campaign manager, two consultants, and a speech coach, but no one can figure out how to fill out the required paperwork?

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske