Crusading U.S. Senate candidate and former New Times journalist John Dougherty has fired a salvo at what he refers to as "Arizona's axis of hysteria." That is, this odd fundraising venture on the part of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and neo-Nazi-hugging state Senator Russell Pearce called B.A.N., or Ban Amnesty Now.
On his campaign blog, Dougherty call the Web site/organization, which is run by veteran GOP operative Sean McCaffrey, "a cynical attempt to boost the two Republicans' political careers and enrich their cronies by whipping up still more division and fear-mongering in Arizona."
(I reached out to McCaffrey, BTW, but he has yet to return my call for a comment.)
Both Arpaio and Pearce are listed as an honorary co-chairs of the group, which describes itself as a 501(c)4 non-profit. In this case, that means B.A.N. is tax-exempt, but your contributions to it are not.
That's a significant point as the site's raison d'etre seems to be a combination of extremist rhetoric and shameless appeals for cash.
U.S. Senator John McCain is described as an "open-borders" advocate. Any pathway to legalization for the 12 million undocumented, no matter how rigorous, is derided as "amnesty." And every utterance from Mesa muttonhead and SB 1070-pusher Pearce is treated as if it were a dictate from the Pope. The Pope of Prejudice, that is.
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You can donate anywhere from $35 to $1,500 on the contributions page, all major credit cards accepted. And if you pony up $100 or more, you get an autographed baseball from America's most decrepit lawman, Sheriff Joe. (For $250 or more, you get the ball and an autographed Arizona Diamondbacks cap. Oh, boy!)
Where is all this money going to? (The org is incorporated in Arizona under the name "Conservative Leadership Coalition.") The site relates that donations will be funneled into "educating Americans about the dangers of amnesty so that, together, we can indeed prevent it from becoming the law of the land."
Um, okay. Thing is, there are already plenty of better-known and more powerful national nativist groups out there such as FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which helped draft SB 1070.
So Dougherty's attack is a solid one. Whenever B.A.N. files its first financial statement with the government, we'll have to grab a copy of it and study its expenditures.