Fan of Tempe Mayoral Candidate Michael Monti Lets the World Know He Plans on Ripping Down Opponent's Signs

Here's a tip: If you're planning on doing something that may be a crime, don't tell the state's largest paper before doing so.

Apparently our tip is a little late, as it would seem that a fan of Tempe mayoral candidate Michael Monti did that yesterday.

Legislative District 17 Republicans chairman A.J. LaFaro told the Arizona Republic yesterday that he doesn't think signs from a firefighters union endorsing Monti's opponent, Mark Mitchell, are legal.

Therefore, LaFaro informed the Republic, he's rounding up some folks to take them down.

In case you're wondering, taking down campaign signs belonging to someone else is illegal in most cases.

The signs around Tempe, paid for by the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, say "Your firefighters support Mark Mitchell for mayor of Tempe."

The operative word there is "Your," the Republic explains, which some contend violates city policy, as he supposes that "Your firefighters" means "Tempe firefighters."

If that's the case, then they're effectively using their position as Tempe firefighters as an endorsement.

The political director for the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association told the Republic that no Tempe firefighters had anything to do with the signs.

Still, LaFaro told the Republic "citizens here in Tempe are upset and outraged. We're going to go organize as a grassroots citizen army and we'll go ahead and take the signs down for [the association's political director] and collect the signs and deliver them to his office over there in Phoenix."

LaFaro didn't answer a call from New Times.

We did, however, get the reaction from LaFaro's LD17 foes -- the LD17 Dems.

"I urge Chairman LaFaro to read the Constitution, respect the rights afforded to every American, and back off his call to break the law," chairman Randy Keating says in a statement. "Democracy shouldn't be about tearing down the other the side, or in LaFaro and Monti's case, violating the First Amendment and its right to free speech. It's about ideas, vision, and leadership."

Keating says it's pretty clear to him that "District 17 Republicans are encouraging open and coordinated crime," which may or may not be the case.

According to state law, there are only a few conditions in which someone can take down campaign signs, with one of those conditions being that the signs were "placed in violation of state law or county, city or town ordinance or regulation."

Therefore, LaFaro would have to bet on whether he's right about the signs being a violation. If he's right, then there are a few less signs supporting Mitchell. If he's wrong, it could mean a class two misdemeanor.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley