The Politico Mafioso blog reported this interesting example of sleazy politics on Tuesday after perusing the SCA report we published last week. Buried in the massive report was a few pages from an interview of the former Republican candidate, Jennifer Barber.
According to the report, Barber went to the state GOP headquarters in December of 2008 to ask for advice on running her campaign. She met with staffers Brett Mecum and Sean McCaffrey, who told her it would cost about $20,000 to secure a seat on the council.
At one point during the meeting, Mecum told Barber that if she paid $2,000 to right-wing political consultant Constantin Querard, she could get an endorsement from Sheriff Arpaio, Barber related to investigators. She wrote down Querard's number and called him briefly, but she never asked him about an Arpaio endorsement.
Barber lost the primary election by 10 votes.
Mecum didn't return a phone message we left for him this morning, but we reached Querard earlier this week.
Barber must be "on drugs," Querard quipped.
He adamantly denied that he knew anything about getting anybody an Arpaio endorsement. He's never done it before and never performed campaign work for Arpaio, he says. Besides, he says, endorsements like that aren't for sale.
"That's not how it works," he says.
Barber, on the other hand, tells New Times she stands behind her testimony to the FBI "110 percent."
She says she felt "queasy" and "stunned" after her meeting with Mecum, which is why she
called reported the incident to the FBI (see below for clarification.) During the SCA investigation, state Attorney General's Office investigator Mike Edwards and FBI Agent Kara Smith decided to meet with Barber and document her concerns.
Barber, a homemaker and community activist, begins to choke up as she describes her disillusionment with GOP leaders.
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"This isn't right, if people are buying endorsements," she says bitterly.
She switched her political affiliation to "independent" after the election.
UPDATE 4-2-11: Barber e-mailed this morning to clarify how she got in touch with the FBI: She says she went to lunch with a friend whose husband works with the FBI. The husband than got in touch with Barber and encouraged her to write a report. He passed the report on to Agent Smith.