Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce: Crossing Line on 501(c)4 Status of Ban Amnesty Now?

Recalled state Senate President Russell Pearce has just taken the bait proffered by Bob Worsley, his opponent in the Legislative District 25 Republican primary for state Senate. And in doing so, Pearce may have further endangered the 501(c)4 status of the organization he currently fronts, Ban Amnesty Now.

Pearce did this by responding to a Worsley press release slamming Pearce's boycott of Arizona businesses that advertise with this paper, thereby officially mixing his own campaign for state Senate with BAN's ineptly-named "buy-cott" of New Times.

The statement released today by Pearce reads, in part: 

"On Tuesday, Bob Worsley's campaign attacked me and like-minded Arizonans for our efforts to draw attention to-and business away from-the Phoenix New Times and its corporate owner, The Village Voice. While hypocritically attacking me for some imagined `divisive rhetoric,' Worsley's campaign offered a strangely disconnected defense of the Phoenix New Times while asking voters to draw a connection between Congressman Raul Grijalva and me. Worsley's rhetoric was obviously meant to be divisive, but he could not pick a more ill fitting pair than Grijalva and me."

I do not know for certain if the Worsley camp intended to lay a trap for Pearce when it slammed the 12-point loser by comparing him with the tres-lefty Grijalva, who initially supported a boycott of Arizona over Pearce's Senate Bill 1070. Either way, the effect is the same.

See, BAN is organized as a non-profit "social welfare organization," ironic as that sounds. It's primary purpose cannot be campaigning for a particular candidate, as it is now doing in the case of Pearce, who acts as its president and hosts BAN's radio hour on KFNX 1100 AM.

Pearce became BAN's president in late January. At that time McCaffrey told me Pearce would have to resign from being BAN's president and host of its AM show, if Pearce decided to seek public office. But when Pearce announced his run for the LD 25 post on March 19, he did not resign, and he continues to host the 60 minutes of air time BAN purchases from KFNX.

As I pointed out at length in a previous blog post, Pearce's stubborn refusal to relinquish his duties at BAN creates a host of legal and ethical issues both for him and the organization. 

Obviously, McCaffrey understood this as well, which is why he made the statement about Pearce resigning back in January.

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