Republican-turned-Independent candidate for sheriff Mike Stauffer may have almost no money, little support and may be regarded as a massive joke by nearly everyone with a lick of sense in Maricopa County.
Nevertheless, he soon could be getting some indirect assistance from a new independent expenditure committee, one trumpeted by none other than Stauffer shill DeeDee Blase.
See also: -Paul Penzone Can Beat Arpaio, If He Turns Up the Heat -Mike Stauffer-Supporter DeeDee Blase's Sick, Twisted Lies -Joe Arpaio-Stooge Mike Stauffer Is "Olivia Cortes on Steroids," Says Randy Parraz -Joe Arpaio on the Run from Paul Penzone, Mike Stauffer the Goat in New Poll (w/Update) -Joe Arpaio Stooge Mike Stauffer a "Republican Candidate," Writes West Kenyon, Campaign Manager (w/Update)
It calls itself the Committee for Independent Non-Partisan Law Enforcement, and its website reads, at first blush, like an indirect endorsement for Stauffer, the wannabe-spoiler candidate in this election.
"Mike Stauffer is the only candidate for Sheriff with command experience and REAL law enforcement leadership skills," it states. "VOTE to give Arizona relief from the embarrassment of four more years of Joe Arpaio backwater justice."
Of Democrat Paul Penzone, the only serious candidate attempting to deny Sheriff Joe Arpaio a sixth term, the site has this to say:
"While Democratic Candidate Paul Penzone would be an improvement over Arpaio, he lacks the experience to organize and lead the nation's most infamous legal bureaucracy."
Yet the person who answers the cell phone listed on the site is none other than Art Mobley, a longtime broadcaster in the Valley, whom I remember from his involvement with the liberal Nova M radio network and KPHX 1480.
Mobley claimed to not know Blase or how she learned of maricopapac.org or CINPLE, and he claimed that CINPLE was not endorsing either candidate, though the language on the site seems to indicate that CINPLE is electioneering on behalf of Stauffer.
(See notation below.)
"We're not supporting anyone," he told me. "It's not an endorsement. You can read it that way if you like. We're concerned more with what we don't have than what we do have."
He explained that the descriptions of the various candidates were based on their respective resumes.
Mobley also told me that this new organization was registered with the feds, Maricopa County, and the Arizona Secretary of State's Office as "Committee for Independent Non-Partisan Law Enforcement," though I've yet to find it registered under that name.
Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne says that she can find no record for CINPLE. I'm still waiting on a response from the Arizona Secretary of State.
Making things even more mysterious is the fact that Mobley did not initially want to give me his full name when I called his cell number. He would only say he was working on behalf of a "small committee," and would not tell me who is in this committee, if it has raised money yet, and if it has, how much.
I noted that the DONATE button was not working on the site, and he explained that this would soon be fixed. Mobley said he was not being paid for his work.
Mighty big of him, don't you think?
I quizzed Mobley on whether he or his committee had been in contact with Arpaio's campaign manager Chad Willems, Arpaio himself, any member of Arpaio's campaign or any intermediaries. He denied all.
He also denied that he would be helping Arpaio either directly or indirectly.
"Why would I help Arpaio?" he asked rhetorically.
I told him I don't know his motivations. But, judging by its Sunday endorsement of Penzone, even the Arizona Republic now realizes what I've been preaching for months: A vote cast for Stauffer is a vote for our current sheriff, or might as well be.
"Well, that's your analysis," he stated.
Um, at this point, Art, I'd say it's a near-universal analysis.
We spoke for a long time, and Mobley pleaded with me to suspend judgment.
"I can guarantee you this, I would never do anything that would help Arpaio," he promised. "I will never encourage anybody to vote for Arpaio. You will see, as this moves forward, just how graphically true that is."
But the website, as written, already is assisting Arpaio by talking up Stauffer. I also find it curious that this website would announce its existence via a rogue character like Blase, just as members of the mainstream media (Channel 12's Brahm Resnik, the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts, etc.) are beginning to call Stauffer's third-wheel bid for sheriff into question.
Is CINPLE perhaps intended to give Stauffer's diversionary candidacy the appearance of some support, or will it in fact give aid and comfort, indirectly, to Stauffer, and in so doing, to Arpaio's candidacy?
We shall see. In the meantime, one name keeps coming to mind for some odd reason: Olivia Cortes.
Note: After I spoke with Mobley about the wording of the website, he apparently made a change, adding the phrase, "VOTE for the candidate that represents the return to the statemenship [sic] Arizona deserves," under Penzone's image.
And you'll observe the "DONATE" button has been removed.
Added to some text next to Arpaio's image is the phrase, "VOTE for change in Arizona."
CINPLE is off to an inauspicious start. Even if it were to begin pimping Penzone and Stauffer equally, that's still suspicious. Any pro-Stauffer message helps Arpaio. Period.
UPDATE October 9. 2012 9:41 AM: The Secretary of State's office just got back to me and told me they have nothing on file for Mobley's mysterious organization. Also, the Arizona Corporation Commission has nothing on file under that name.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.