Feathered Bastard

Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready Runs for Pinal County Sheriff as a Democrat (w/Update)

He supports legalizing marijuana, considers himself a civil libertarian, has had nice things to say about the Occupy movement, and recently filed paperwork in Pinal County to run for Sheriff as a Democrat.

One little speed bump: He also happens to be the best known neo-Nazi in Arizona and has referred to Adolf Hitler as a "great white civil rights leader."

I'm speaking, of course, of J.T. Ready, notorious for his affiliations with the National Socialist Movement (he's no longer an official member, but still marches with them), his one-time friendship with Sand Land's biggest bigot, ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce, and his ongoing armed patrols in the desert, during which he's turned over drugs, dead bodies and suspected illegal immigrants to the U.S. Border Patrol. 

Currently, Ready has a "J.T. Ready for Sheriff" Facebook site, with photos showing him campaigning in Pinal County, sidling up to a pretty African-American woman, posing with a shotgun as he hunts "narco-terrorists in the desert night," and, my favorite, doing a black-power fist salute in front of a sign for a Malcolm X Street, apparently in Coolidge, Arizona.

His entry for the last of these bears repeating:

"As part of our exploratory committee for Sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona- the Chairman and I visit a Black neighborhood to better understand the concerns of the people and how to utilize their help in combating Mexican drug cartels. Seems how we have an official Malcolm X street sign, one of my priorities will be to add a George Lincoln Rockwell sign as well."

Rockwell, in case you don't know, was the infamous fuhrer of the American Nazi Party, assassinated in 1967 by a disgruntled stormtrooper.

Ready's committee "chairman"? According to paperwork Ready submitted to the Pinal County Elections Department, that's active NSM member Harry Hughes, a resident of Maricopa, Arizona, who recently scored some press for local swastika-lickers by distributing racist fliers in the San Tan Valley.

The forms also state that both Ready and Hughes share the same Maricopa address. A woman by the name of "Amber Mederos" is listed as treasurer of the "Committee to Elect J.T. Ready."

As Ready was once a registered Republican and a GOP precinct committeeman when he lived in Mesa, why has he now switched over to the Ds?

"It's the party of Jim Crow, [late U.S. Senator and one-time KKK member] Robert Byrd, and [late Alabama Governor and one-time segregationist] George Wallace," he cracked. "You gotta bring it home, know what I mean?"

He described the exploratory phase of his campaign as "kinda putting your French Tickler on," but said his campaign was "for real" and he hoped to draw support from all across the political spectrum.

"We should have freedom in this country," he intoned, much like a candidate for office. "Whether or not it's on the left or right-wing extreme, as long as it's done lawfully, we need those things in place to prevent the middle from being eroded upon through tyranny."

When I asked him if he was going to distance himself from his neo-Nazi activities -- attending NSM marches, holding up a portrait of Hitler at one counter-demonstration, appearing in full NSM battle gear in another, and keeping an active page on NewSaxon.org, billed as an "online community for whites, by whites" -- he skirted the issue, but would not badmouth his far-rightwing activism.

"There's a lot of history and things that need to be studied and talked about," he replied of former statements praising Hitler. "More than at a coffeeshop, more than what's going to be canned down for us down at a university.

"I mean, I just bought Mao's Little Red Book...Does that make me a communist if I go out there and say some things from Mao?"

Some may think Ready will be easy to dismiss, what with his NSM-parading, media-garnering stunts and a record that includes being booted from the U.S. Marines and weird run-ins with law enforcement, such as a 2007 incident in which he was arrested for driving around with fictitious plates on his car.

Yet, I know him to be intelligent, media-savvy, and a practiced public speaker. Groomed by his erstwhile mentor Pearce to run for office (Ready ran for Mesa City Council long ago and lost), he remains a far better communicator than Pearce will ever be.

Indeed, I'll never forget his 2007 speech before a nativist rally at the state Capitol, where Pearce applauded him and later worked the crowd with him arm-in-arm. Ready had the Mexican-haters eating out of his hands with a fiery address, talking about jerking noncompliant judges around by their collars and sealing off America with Marine divisions.

Chilling stuff. But also red meat for the nativists, who at that time were happy to have Ready in their ranks, no matter his extremism.

Pearce finally distanced himself from Ready during a 2008 re-election campaign. In 2010, I exposed how Pearce had helped initiate Ready into the Mormon faith, and Ready went on the record, denouncing Pearce as "the worst type of racist" and slamming him as a hypocrite.

Ever-quotable and eager to play the ham, Ready knows how to woo some members of the media, who remain ignorant or indifferent to his well-documented history.

"I can honestly say that I don't look back with regret at things in my life that have cost me great pain," he told me. "I consider it all a journey and a learning experience. Everything enriches us if we choose to take those things and use them for a better purpose...and that's what I'm going to do here in Pinal County with this exploratory committee."

Given such statements, I wonder if other members of the Fourth Estate will conveniently overlook Ready's neo-Nazi antics.

Critical of Sheriff-turned-Congressional candidate Paul Babeu's grandstanding, Ready regularly refers to the sheriff as "Baboon" and talks of battling corruption in Pinal County and favoring average citizens, even if they happen to be felons.

Regarding Babeu-ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom he's supported somewhat in the past, Ready said he'll work with him, if elected, but that a "Sheriff Ready" would focus on bigger fish than the small fry Arpaio goes after in his immigration sweeps and raids.

"If Sheriff Joe wants to take these 80 year-old posse guys and stand around with washed up celebrities [like Steven Seagal] and make little kids cry at car washes, that's his deal," Ready stated. "I'm going to be out there in the desert looking for really bad guys...not fucking around with this Filiberto's stuff."

Of his previous contretemps with law enforcement, Ready had this comeback, "Who better to put in charge of the attack dogs than somebody who's been bit by them before?"

Ready will have to gather signatures to put his name on the primary ballot, though the total amount he'll have to score has yet to be figured out. 

Pinal County Elections spokeswoman Becky Canalez told me the exact number will be determined after March 1. She could only surmise that it would be between 262 and 5,233 signatures from qualified electors. 

Meanwhile, Ready can raise money: the contribution limit is $430 per person, she said..

I wouldn't put it past him to score a slot on the primary ballot, though he's as much a Democrat as I am an Olympic gymnast. 

The example that comes to mind is KKK leader David Duke, who came in second in Louisiana's 1991 gubernatorial contest, losing in a run-off to corruption king Edwin Edwards. 

Also, if Pinal County is conservative enough to go for a far-right opportunist like Babeu, Ready might draw as much support because of his past as in spite of it.

UPDATE 1/20/12: In response to inquiries by concerned citizens, I double-checked with Pinal County Elections Director Steve Kizer today, and he confirmed that Ready is a registered Democrat in that jurisdiction. 

The date of Ready's voter registration is 12/9/11, Kizer tells me.

Ready's still listed in the Maricopa County system as a Republican living in Gilbert, but Kizer explained the following: 

"If a person moves to a different county and re-registers, the new registration will trigger a cancellation in the old jurisdiction." 

So I'm guessing there's some lag time involved. 

In any case, Ready's now a D in Pinal County.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons