Gila River Indian Community Boosting Support for District 4 Candidate Laura Pastor

With just a couple weeks remaining until Election Day, a final round of mailers in support of District 4 council candidate Laura Pastor are arriving in Phoenix mailboxes.

They feature quotes from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and State Representative Debbie McCune Davis, both who have endorsed Pastor's campaign. The fliers are paid for by the Gila River Indian Community.

Pastor is facing Justin Johnson in the November 5 election -- both candidates made it through a crowded, seven-way August primary with Pastor getting 4,030 votes to Johnson's 4,196 votes.

See also: -Political Blows Still Flying In District 4 as Johnson, Pastor Enter Final Leg of Race -Congressman Pastor Joins Congressman Franks in Opposing Proposal for WV Casino -Federal Judge Affirms AZ Gaming Compact Doesn't Ban New Casinos in Phoenix Area

Laura Pastor isn't the Gila River Indian Community's only connection to the Pastor family.

Pastor's father -- Congressman Ed Pastor -- on April 26 signed on to legislation intended to decapitate plans by the Tohono O'odham Nation to build a casino in the West Valley near Glendale.

The measure, HB 1410, was introduced by fellow Congressman Trent Franks, a West Valley Republican, and tailor made to benefit opponents of the TO Casino, namely the Gila River Indian Community.

GRIC has been the primary opponent to the Nation's gaming plans -- launching anti-casino web campaigns, pouring millions of dollars lobbying lawmakers and sparing no expense in court to block a casino that would compete with their West Valley gambling hub.

It has joined forces with other tribes, including the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which also operates Phoenix-area casinos and opposes inevitable competition that a new Tohono O'odham casino would bring.

About two weeks after Congressman Pastor added his name as a co-sponsor to Frank's measure, Children & Families First, an independent expenditure committee supporting Laura Pastor, started hitting up tribes, including the Salt River Pima Indian Community, for campaign contributions.

"You may have heard of Laura Pastor," wrote Leah Landrum Taylor, chair of Children & Families First, in her May 13 solicitation letter.

She continued:

Laura is the daughter of Congressman Ed and Verma Pastor. Congressman Pastor ... serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. ... I am asking you for your consideration in supporting CFF so that a bright and passionate leader such as Laura Pastor can get elected. You financial contribution will go directly toward helping Laura Pastor win in the Fall.

On September 17, lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed Franks' measure to block the West Valley casino. It was sent over to the U.S. Senate, where is remains today.

A Facebook message that Pastor's campaign says was mistakenly posted further magnified the connection between Pastors and the Gila River/Salt River Pima-Maricopa.

The post, which appears written by Pastor, notes her support for Franks' bill and states that "casinos have no place in neighborhoods."

It appeared she was lending her support in light of the indirect campaign contributions.

A campaign official said the post was up for only a short time before it was removed because Pastor didn't write it. Pastor doesn't have a position on Franks' proposed law, her campaign people tell New Times. One of the posts also initially erroneously described the measure as one being considered by Arizona lawmakers.

A spokesman for Pastor's campaign said it was taken down as soon as Pastor became aware of it. And, he further points out that Pastor has been adamant that no one uses the Congressman's influence in connection with her race.

Children & Families First, which reminded the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of the Congressman's "powerful" Washington position, obviously didn't get the memo.

A spokesman for Pastor's campaign said they were unaware of the letter sent by CFF because they aren't coordinating with any independent expenditures.

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo