According to records provided to special counsel Jeffrey Messing by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's political guru Chad Willems of Summit Consulting Group, Arpaio's re-election campaign committee spent more than $500,000 in media buys for TV ads and mailers that ultimately benefited Arpaio's candidate for Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery.
As I reported in a blog item yesterday, Arpaio's campaign was fined nearly $154K, around three times the amount actually spent for a mailer knocking Montgomery's rival in the GOP primary, interim County Attorney Rick Romley. Messing declared that according to state law, the mailer was an "in-kind contribution" to Montgomery's campaign and therefore violated contribution limits.
Although Messing found that the TV ads Arpaio ran bashing Romley were legal, he ordered Arpaio's camp to produce records verifying the total cost incurred "in creating and broadcasting the Television commercial."
Today Messing sent me a set of bare-bones invoices from Summit Consulting indicating "media buys" of $492,783. That's in addition to the $51,736 that the mailer cost.
Various news outlets have repeated the figure of an estimated $700K spent on the TV ads. When Channel 12's Brahm Resnik used this figure recently to question Montgomery about the money Arpaio used to his benefit, Montgomery did not dispute it.
I asked Messing if the invoices, which contain very little information, represented the total amount spent on the TV buy. Messing said he knew no more than what was on the invoices themselves. So the $500K-plus may just be a starting point.
Today I attended a press conference where state Senator Russell Pearce and Sheriff Joe held forth on why they think Prop 203, the medical marijuana initiative, is a bad idea. Montgomery showed up after the press conference. I pressed both Arpaio and Montgomery on the $154K fine, asking Joe if he would pay it and Montgomery what he though about his patron's violation of campaign laws.
Both refused to answer any questions (from me, at least) about the media buys and the fine. Can't imagine why.
You can see the invoiced provided to Messing, here. One is an invoice from Lincoln Strategy Group to Summit Consulting for the cost of the mailer. That mimics the $51,736 figure mentioned in another Summit invoice. So don't be confused by that redundancy.
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