Do I really want to write one more word about recalled ex-state Senator Russell Pearce?
Not really. But despite being rejected twice in his own district by a margin of 12 points, first in a historic 2011 recall election and then in the Republican primary for state Senate in 2012, he continues to resurface, like a nasty case of political herpes.
Pearce still retains a cult of personality in the state GOP, which Maricopa County Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins is part of. Recently, Hoskins created a job for the man he admires so much with our money, at the rate of $85,000 per year.
Hoskins says this is an old position his office had eliminated during a time of cutbacks at the county, though some documents and screenshots released by the county indicate that the position was meant for Pearce.
For example, there's a screenshot showing the creation of the "new position," with the comment, "Please do not post, applicant Russell Pearce completed a ZZZ application 2 days ago."
The hiring is an uncovered, at-will position: essentially, a bit of patronage Hoskins legally can dole out to whomever he wants.
In one e-mail from his deputy Royce Flora, Hoskins is told that the office has just gotten the approval for the creation of an $85,000 job for Pearce.
Flora tells Hoskins the following:
"Just fyi, they really jumped through hoops to get this done. MaryEllen had them prioritize this or it would have been another two weeks before they would even come back with a number."
Interestingly, Flora has donated money to the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee, an independent expenditure committee that currently sponsors Pearce's Saturday night radio show and backs Pearce's revenge candidate for state Senate in the Legislative District 25 primary, Ralph Heap.
What caught my eye about the records the county released in regard to the hiring of Pearce was Pearce's application for employment, which lists under "Graduate School" that Pearce went to the University of Arizona, and scored a degree in "budget and appropriations."
Granted, it does say "other" next to "degree received" on the form. But next to "Did you graduate?," it unequivocally states, "Yes."
The implication is that he went to graduate school at U of A and scored a degree from there.
See also: -When Valley Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready Converted to Mormonism, Guess Which Prominent Politico Ordained Him an "Elder" -Triumph of the Swill: White-pride poster boy J.T. Ready rocks the rabble at Saturday's anti-immigrant fest -Russell Pearce Seems Incapable of Telling the Truth, Even About His Own Religion
I contacted U of A, sent them the application, and asked them to check their records.
Spokeswoman Andrea Smiley got back to me a day or two later with the following reply:
"Hi Stephen. I've checked with our team in Student Affairs and we do not have a record of Mr. Pearce attending or graduating from the UA. It is possible, however, that he attended a professional development seminar, or non-credit program. If so, we do not keep records on those programs or the participants."
Via e-maiI, I confronted Pearce with this info, and he replied, thus:
WOW. Mr. Lemons, it was simply put in the wrong box. It was a professional course and it was a certificated course. Mr. Lemons I know you hate me and continue to put out false information and I have often wondered why. I do not and have not EVER knowingly associated with race based or hate based organizations. I did NOT ever change a record at MVD wrongly and that was proven by an independent investigation. I have never used words you say I did, except in naming a Task Force created under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and that was its name, not mine it was the official name. I would ask for fairness. You do not have to agree with me on issues, I understand, but to continue the insults and misinformation is sad and hurtful.
More on some of these claims in a sec. Pearce mentions them in this e-mail apparently because I'd spoken with Hoskins and raised the issue of Pearce's past dismissal as head of Arizona's Motor Vehicles Division, as well as Pearce's use of the word "wetback" and his friendship and alliance with the late, murderous neo-Nazi J.T. Ready.Pearce applauds JT, and JT praises Pearce (about 2:21 in), at a nativist rally in 2007
But what about this resume padding by Pearce, does it bother Hoskins at all?
Not a bit. This was Hoskins' reply when I asked him about it:
"Mr. Pearce responded to you on this matter on 7/18 stating that it was checked in error. He subsequently forwarded that response to me."
According to the University of Phoenix, Pearce has a Bachelor of Arts in Management with a diploma date of 11/1/1981, so that claim on Pearce's application, at least, is correct.
What about attending "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. His dates of attendance were July 7-26, 1996.
The JFK School of Government does have master's programs. This is not one of them.
Regarding Pearce's being fired at the MVD and what that situation involved, I referred Hoskins to an article I wrote in 2012, after Pearce stated about the firing that, he "did nothing wrong, ever," and claimed that the person who sacked him in 1999, Mary Peters, then director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, had apologized for doing so.
From that article, I quote:
Pearce noted that he was "an appointed official" whom the governor could cut loose at any time. Then he added a new twist, one I hadn't heard before in previous versions of this tall tale.
"The person who was the head of ADOT at the time has apologized to me several times since then," he said. "So my legacy is good."
Mary Peters was the director of the Arizona Department of Transportation under Governor Hull. She eventually went on to serve as U.S. Secretary of Transportation in the George W. Bush administration.
It was Peters who sacked Pearce after he and two other MVD employees altered the driving record of a Tucson woman who'd caught two DUIs in 10 months.
According to press accounts from 1999, these changes would have allowed the woman to avoid a one-year mandatory suspension of her license. Allegedly, Pearce and his subordinates did this as a favor to a state legislator.
When Pearce's former assistant director claimed Pearce and his employees had been cleared, Peters shot back in the press: "There's a big difference between being cleared and choosing not to file criminal charges."
Currently, Peters runs her own Peoria-based consulting firm. I caught up with her by phone while she was in Washington, D.C. She denied ever apologizing to Pearce over his firing.
"I've talked with Russell, and I would say we've agreed to put the past in the past," she told me. "But I didn't apologize to him. That's just not an accurate statement."
Peters confirmed that she axed Pearce because of the scandal involving the Tucson woman's DUI conviction and the license-record change.
She said firing Pearce had nothing to do with the switch in administrations from Symington to Hull, both of whom are Republicans.
"I was deputy [ADOT director] when Fife stepped down, then Jane appointed me to be director," Peters said, noting that Symington had approved her appointment as deputy director.
Then there's the case of baby-killer and right-wing extremist J.T. Ready, who once described Pearce as a"father figure."
I have offered so much evidence of Pearce's link to this nefarious individual, you'd think Pearce would give up denying it.
But he does not. In response to an e-mail to Hoskins that I cc-ed Pearce on, wherein I mentioned the ties to Ready, Pearce e-mailed this statement to Hoskins, which I obtained via a public records request:
"What an idiot. That was before I knew anything about his involvement. He was a PC and we all thought a good kid. I was the one that called for his removal as a PC and from the party when we found out his involvement."
In 2008, three U.S. Congressmen called for Ready to be removed from the party in a letter to Tom Husband, then chair of the Maricopa County Republican Party.
Pearce was forced to denounce Ready in 2008, but he cannot claim that he was unaware of Ready's extremist activities prior to that. As I detailed in a 2010 column, former ADL of Arizona director Bill Straus told me of how he had warned Pearce in 2006 about Ready.
Here's an excerpt from that column:
Pearce had been warned privately in October 2006 of Ready's nefarious affiliations. This, by Bill Straus, regional director of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League.
Straus gave Pearce a file on neo-Nazis and other racists flocking to Pearce's anti-immigrant cause. It included information on and a photo of Ready, who already was on the ADL's radar.
When, in 2008, three Arizona congressmen lined up to kick Ready out of the Republican Party and his elected post as a precinct committeeman, Pearce was again linked to Ready with a now-infamous photo of the prejudiced pair from the 2007 rally, published in Feathered Bastard ("Tonopah's White Knights of America," June 28, 2007).
Of that photo, Pearce told the Republic, "Nobody knew what [Ready] stood for."
After reading that statement, Straus fired off a letter to Pearce reminding him of their October 2006 meeting. Straus says he never received a reply.
"It's hard for me to fathom," Straus told me, "that after a one-on-one meeting with me -- and all the press J.T. got -- that [Pearce] was unaware of what he was and what he stood for."
Early in their relationship, Pearce ordained Ready as an elder in the Mormon church. This was around 2003 or 2004. Pearce's involvement with Ready continued over the years. In 2007, I watched them on the lawn of the state House at a nativist rally, working the crowd together.
That same day, Ready had given a fiery speech, which Pearce, among others, applauded.
Pearce had already been warned by Straus about Ready, and Ready had been publicly outed by the ADL during a legislative forum. Also, I had written about Ready's profile on a neo-Nazi social networking site.
And yet, in June of 2007, Ready and Pearce remained thick as thieves. Their views on immigration paralleled each other. Pearce had even backed Ready's run for Mesa City Council the year before.
There is a lot to argue against Pearce having a paid position with any government entity, much less one that pays $85K. I haven't even touched on Pearce's involvement in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, or his many offensive statements over the years, such as his use of the term, "wetback," and so on.
As for the his claim to have attended graduate school at U of A, I can only see it as part of a long career of deception practiced by Pearce. I've caught him in many lies. This latest one is hardly the most egregious.
If Hoskins leaves the county and wants to employ Pearce with his own money, that's his business. Employing him with our money is where I have a problem.
Pearce is like a wad a gum on the bottom of your shoe you just can't get rid of. Or something worse.
Hoskins seems bound and determined to persist in this atrocious cronyism, despite the hue and cry from the public.
So that icky stuff on the taxpayers' heel remains, thanks to good ol' Hos.
Below is Hoskins' "final word" on the subject of Pearce, sent this morning:
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Attached is the calendar and email records you requested, and I will send you the telephone records upon receipt from OET. I have added comments below for each item in your request, and I am providing the following additional information that you may find useful.
While I have known Mr. Pearce for some time, our relationship was nothing more than casual greetings when we met at various political functions. I did testify before one of his committees in 2008 or 2009, and may have provided information to him on request when he was in the legislature, but I don't recall anything specific. My first one-on-one conversation with him was when I called him from my home phone on the evening of July 8 to discuss why I had invited him to meet with me the following day. To date, this is the only telephone conversation I have had with him.
The position in question is one that was left vacant for several years when the person holding it resigned. The duties of that position and the employees were assigned to other areas, most of which were unrelated. The position was reactivated well before I contacted Mr. Pearce about it. I had previously offered it to another person, but he declined. It is a management position and the salary is set by the County Human Resources section. This is to ensure that all county managers in all agencies with similar duties are paid equitably commensurate with the duties required in the job description and the applicant's qualifications.
The salary range for the position is $35.21 to $53.89 per hour with a median starting amount of $44.55 per hour. Human resources set the starting salary at just under $41 per hour, or about $85,000 per year. This is about $15,000 per year less than my other two managers that are not CPAs or IT certified. Mr. Pearce has stated that he will not be participating in the pension plan, so his current pension amounts will not change.
Mr. Pearce is a highly decorated first responder that was seriously wounded in the line of duty. He could probably name a dozen or more of his fellow officers that made the ultimate sacrifice defending the values and principles that make our country great. If you examine his list of accomplishments found in the attachment you will find many that directly benefit the citizens of our state. You may take exception to a number of them, but you have to acknowledge that many would not exist were it not for his efforts. It would be a challenge for you and most other people to make a similar list.
Mr. Pearce has an impressive management background in some very challenging public service career fields. Ones that few people are capable of navigating without some bumps along the way. What one has to do is weigh the bumps and the accomplishments to reach a decision. A good example is the Arizona Republic's recent endorsement of a congressional candidate that they were chastising a year ago for suing the county for causing her stress. Unfortunately, I have to agree that they were right in both cases, but I am holding my nose in doing so. (They likely are too.)
Mr. Pearce will be the third ex-cop I will have had the good fortune to work with. I find that their experience and training allows them to see fewer shades of gray that greatly aids in getting to the crux of an issue. One of the prime responsibilities of the County Treasurer's office is safekeeping of public monies. Having Mr. Pearce on staff will enhance our ability in this area.
Finally, I want to point out that the country was on the threshold of the worst recession in history when I assumed this office. We were one of the few treasurer's offices, state or county, that did not lose any public money during that time. Also, there have been no newsworthy events related to management of public funds associated with this office during my tenure. That is somewhat remarkable considering that we manage over $10 billion per year that requires over three million transactions.
I am sharing this information with others in the medial that have shown an interest in this subject. I have no illusion that what I have provided above will satisfy everyone, but this is the sum total of all I have to offer and is my final word on this subject.
Charles, "Hos" Hoskins, Maricopa County Treasurer.
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