Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Disses Government ?Programs for the Poor on His Radio Show, While Helping to Run One

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He still is influential within the Arizona GOP, and his endorsement is sought after, though it didn't do much good for former California Congressman Frank Riggs, who came in last in the Republican primary for governor.

Similarly, Pearce's revenge candidate for state Senate in Legislative District 25, Ralph Heap, was bested in the GOP primary by current state Senator Bob Worsley, who beat Pearce by 12 points in the 2012 primary.

If Pearce's new post was in state government, he might have a problem keeping his leadership role with the state GOP because of laws restricting political activity by state employees, known as Arizona's "little Hatch Act," after a similar law governing federal employees.

Alas, I've been told by more than one expert in election law that the state law does not apply to county and city agencies.

The county does have an ethics handbook online for employees, suggesting certain limits on political activities "to ensure the proper and unbiased functioning of Maricopa County government."

These include a statement that a county employee, "whether merit covered or unclassified, may not be a candidate for nomination or election to any public office which is either paid or partisan."

However, county spokeswoman Cari Gerchick tells me, the handbook was never approved, has never been in force, and should not be online.

In any case, it seems appropriate that Pearce get to keep both his party epaulettes and his new gig, since it was good old-fashioned party cronyism that got him the job in the first place.

See, I recently learned both from e‑mails obtained from Hoskins' office and from Hoskins himself how Pearce became the face of the Elderly Assistance Fund.

It certainly wasn't Pearce's honesty on his job application, because as I wrote in a July blog post, Pearce claimed on his county application to have attended graduate school at the University of Arizona, which according to the university, he did not.

Pearce also claimed to have attended "graduate school" at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

A spokesman for Harvard informed me that Pearce went to the school's three-week Senior Executives in State and Local Government program in 1996. The Kennedy School offers a graduate program, but Pearce was not in it.

Asked about these discrepancies, Pearce claimed the information "was simply put in the wrong box."

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