Princess of Darkness

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Shaw also has accused Smith of voting for "BIG GOVERNMENT" programs. His offense? A bill, passed this year, that streamlined fingerprinting by giving the Department of Public Safety state-of-the-art equipment and the responsibility of handling the task. Big brother? Big deal.

This was one of Smith's pet projects, and it passed into law in two pieces. Shaw voted for the bill that created the department in DPS to do the fingerprinting, but voted against the bill authorizing the money to do so.

What about Smith's bent toward socialized medicine? Shaw tells the voters Smith supports government's taking away freedom of choice in health coverage; she points to Smith's vote for a bill that would have required all HMOs to cover chiropractic care. That hardly makes him Hillary Clinton.

And Smith's opposition to Proposition 102 hardly makes the guy an ACLU flunkie, although you wouldn't know it from Shaw's hit piece, which reads: "Opposed locking up violent juveniles and trying them as adults for violent crimes like murder and rape."

For the record, Smith does not oppose locking up violent juveniles and trying them as adults; like many people, he simply disagreed with the methodology offered by Proposition 102, which mandates trying juveniles under 15 accused of murder, rape or armed robbery as adults. Smith wanted discretion left to judges.

Shaw's antics have engendered a predictable response from Smith, who now calls her the most dishonorable person he's ever met. "This is, without question," he says, "the most unenjoyable campaign I've ever been in."

Shaw sees nothing wrong with her charges. She's just campaigning, she says.
"Is there a political spin on it? Yes, of course," she says. "But it is a campaign, and I think that as long as you're sticking to issues and you're accurate, that's what counts. And to me, I went to great lengths to try to be as accurate as I could."

Evidently, not far enough.

Actually, says Robin Shaw, Tom Smith started it.
Smith supported Shaw's first bid for the House in 1994, but the relationship has been degenerating nearly ever since.

During Shaw's second year in the Legislature, war broke out.
Smith and Shaw had offices next door to one another. Shaw says she overheard a phone conversation between Smith and one of their constituents.

"He started ripping me personally because I supported this small-class-size bill. When that happened, I mean, the blood just ran out of my face and I couldn't believe what I was hearing."

She says Smith was telling the constituent that Shaw was an "idiot" and didn't understand the issues. But Shaw was more upset by what followed.

"Then he went on to criticize the way that I dress. And he used some adjectives that I won't repeat."

Shaw says she walked into Smith's office, sat down and waited for him to hang up the phone. When he did, she slammed the door and let him have it.

Smith barely recalls the incident. He says he never called Shaw an idiot and denies commenting on the way she dresses.

He says he apologized to Shaw and told her she shouldn't have been eavesdropping. "If I hear two people talking, if I hear my name, I turn around and walk away. I don't sit there and listen," Smith says. "But I don't think it was a big deal, quite frankly. I don't think that started the animosity."

When they both announced they were running for the Senate, that old black magic started working again.

The 1998 feud according to Shaw: She insists Smith started the nastiness by distributing copies of an article from the newspaper Heatstroke, detailing an Arizona Human Rights Fund campaign event that netted Shaw $6,000 and making her out to be a friend of gay rights.

Shaw contends that she was misquoted in the article, and cites a letter from the story's author as proof. She sent Smith a copy of the letter, asking him to stop distributing the clipping, and even sicced Republican state party Chairman Mike Hellon on Smith.

Smith admits he distributed seven copies of the article--with Shaw's quotes underlined--before receiving her "cease and desist" missive, but says he hasn't sent any out since.

Another brouhaha began after a District 26 debate, when Shaw mentioned that Smith had voted against a bill that gave counties the authority to enforce ordinances against adult-oriented businesses. Smith responded with a letter setting the record straight. "That is a lie," he said.

Shaw looked up the vote and found that although Smith had opposed the legislation earlier in the session, he voted for the final bill.

Instead of admitting she made a mistake, apologizing and moving on, Shaw launched a new crusade against Smith, now accusing him of calling her a liar.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at