Disgraced, recalled ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce's doomed comeback campaign wants voters to buy the line that he's all goodness and light these days, as if an entire career built on lies and hate never occurred.
One of the latest flyers to hit the mailboxes of Republican voters in Legislative District 25, where Pearce desperately is trying to claw his way back into the state Senate, features a huge image of a sleeping baby and an inset of a smiling Pearce feeding an infant.
Stephen Lemons column
What's next, a basket of puppies?
"Tired of the negative campaigning?" it reads. "We are, too."
Never mind that all the negativity in the LD 25 primary has emanated from Pearce. His foe, entrepreneur-turned-politician Bob Worsley, has commented little about Pearce, and then only reluctantly.
Pearce, on the other hand, has attacked Worsley in his candidate statement for the Clean Elections voter guide, as well as in mailers. The former is considered a cheap shot, because those statements usually are about the positive attributes of the candidate.
But when there's nothing positive to convey, what's a politico to do?
This year, there have been sham "endorsements" for Pearce from questionable groups such as the "Arizona Teacher's [sic] Association," and people on his online list of "Friends of Russell" who actually are deceased.
Though Governor Jan Brewer refuses to endorse him, Pearce lists her on his website under "Past Endorsements."
Plus, Pearce caused a kerfuffle when he claimed he had the endorsement of GOP Congressman David Schweikert. Only when I reported that the Schweikert camp was saying they'd never been asked for the nod did Pearce finally bother to ask for it.
Schweikert acquiesced, scoring Pearce one of his few current endorsements of any weight.
Pearce's blame-the-victims Facebook posts about the recent movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, should be ample reminder of who the real Russell Pearce is.
Similarly, a mountain of vile anti-Mexican rants e-mailed by Pearce while a legislator — released last month as part of an ACLU motion seeking a new injunction on the "papers please" section of Pearce's Senate Bill 1070 — drove home the point that Pearce long has been a tireless agent of division and fear in this state.
Who can forget his response to the tragedy on May 2, when Pearce's erstwhile friend and protege, neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, murdered four innocents in Gilbert, including a baby girl, before committing suicide?
(No wonder Pearce's holding a newborn in that ad.)
Considering that Ready's home arsenal found after the shooting contained six military-issue grenades, the loss of life from this paranoid, right-wing nutcase could have been massive.
Pearce's concern, however, was for himself, and he spent the majority of a press release on the tragedy kvetching about how reporters were pestering him for a comment, which — considering his former ties to Ready — was entirely understandable.
Ready was a man Pearce mentored for years, supported in a race for the Mesa City Council, groomed for higher political office, and inducted into his faith — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Pearce was well aware of Ready's nefarious extremist activities when he palled around with him at a 2007 anti-immigrant rally at the state Capitol, where an infamous picture of the pair, arm-in-arm and grinning, was taken.
In video of this event, Pearce is seen smiling and applauding his pupil, Ready, as the Ernst Rohm of the East Valley lays out a blueprint for a military takeover of the United States, one in which judges would be jerked out of office by their collars.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary that I've published over the years, Pearce and his loyalists have attempted to portray the photo as a fluke.
But as seen in the e-mails released by the ACLU (some dating as far back as 2006), Pearce's views on race, ethnicity, and immigration dovetailed nicely with those of Ready, who once called for land mines on the U.S. border with Mexico and who spent his last years on this Earth as a vigilante rounding up migrants at gunpoint in the desert.
As revealved in this eletronic cache, one of Pearce's favorite writers is nativist extremist Frosty Wooldridge, who likened illegal immigration to the importation of leper colonies in a 2006 column.
Pearce mass e-mailed this screed without Wooldridge's byline, giving the impression that Pearce had written it. The e-mail's sentiment was one with which Ready heartily agreed, to judge by Ready's own racist ramblings.
Which helps explain why Pearce's lawyers, in a complaint brought against him in federal court, moved to block as inflammatory any questioning of Pearce on his relationship with Ready.
This occurred recently in Reza v. Pearce, in which Phoenix civil rights activist Salvador Reza is suing Pearce for causing his false arrest and imprisonment after Pearce, then Senate president, banned Reza from entering the state Senate building in 2011.
As a result of Pearce's move, Reza was collared and booked into jail after he showed up one day to talk with Steve Gallardo, his state senator.
Pearce's attorneys from the right-wing Rose Law Group, known for defending such rogues as amateur jockey-shorts model Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, argued that Pearce's relationship with Ready was "irrelevant."
Only a protective order could shield Pearce from the "harm . . . to his reputation and political career," if Pearce was questioned about Ready, accurately described by Rose Law Group in its court filing as "a neo-Nazi white supremacist mass murderer of women and children."
Surprisingly, federal Judge Frederick Martone granted the request, barring Reza's attorney, Stephen Montoya, from asking Pearce about Ready during a recent deposition.
Martone agreed that information about the relationship might "inflame" a jury, but he also suggested that such questioning could be "duplicative," in that Montoya "had already discovered evidence showing the defendant was a 'friend, sponsor, and mentor' to Ready."
In other words, the connection between the two men already had been firmly established. An achievement for which I'd like to take full credit, but really is due to Pearce's own racism and stupidity.
That Pearce would be so reluctant to discuss his ties to Ready under oath is telling. A veritable maestro of mendacity, Pearce has lied so many times and for so long about his father-son-like relationship with Ready that he no doubt was petrified by the thought of having to come up with a version that jibed with all the facts, which I've laid out in innumerable blog posts and columns.
Ready was not the only extremist drawn to Pearce: Neo-Nazis have praised Pearce's legislative efforts online, old-school Phoenix storm trooper Elton Hall donated money to Pearce's failed attempt to beat back the recall last year, Mexican-haters such as convicted public urinator "Buffalo" Rick Galeener have endorsed him heretofore, and, in general, the nativist crowd considers him a deity.
What about that anti-Semitic rant from the neo-Nazi National Alliance he e-mailed in 2006? To this day, Pearce claims he simply had not read the Jew-bashing tirade in full.
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And those racist e-mails made public by the ACLU, particularly ones quoted above by Frosty Wooldridge, a fave scribe of onetime Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke?
Well, when it comes to Wooldridge's contention that Mexicans "spawn . . . corruption wherever they go," Pearce defended the concept if not the phrasing.
"I don't think it's racist," Pearce stated in the deposition. "I think [Wooldridge's] trying to use metaphors about the corruption that's coming across that border with all those bad guys."
Pearce's old pal Ready would have concurred. And all the pics of sleeping babies and puppy dogs in the world won't change that.