Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's Constantin Querard Makes Bank from IE Committee (w/Update)

So what do you call an independent expenditure committee where the chairman scores around 72 percent of all the committee's expenditures?

You call that a nice payday for Constantin Querard. 

In February of this year, the slippery GOP consultant, alleged by some to be the ultimate shot-caller behind the sham candidacy of ex-Legislative District 18 state Senate hopeful Olivia Cortes, formed Arizona Deserves the Best. This, to help out his pal, embattled Senate President Russell Pearce.

Friday, the group submitted its first campaign finance report with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. Total cash receipts equal $25,010, so far. Disbursements, $18,938, out of which, Querard and his campaign products company High Noon scored a sweet $13,597. 

As with Querard's various other political cash cows, ADB is headquartered out of CQ's home in Laveen. 

I rang the number on the finance report, and got the devil himself, so to speak. 

I asked to see Querard's invoices for the services he apparently rendered to, um, himself. Of course, he declined. 

"Given the quality of your coverage, you gather I'm not answering your questions," he smarmed.

Well, why not?

"Because I don't like the way you write," he told me. "It's garbage, it's hateful, it's ugly...I'll save my answers for actual journalists."

I'll concede CQ's expertise in garbage. But if the rule for "actual" journalists is kiss up to a snake like him, I'll take a pass.

Querard hung up when I asked if any of the money he received went to pay for Cortes' illegal "Si, Se Puede" signs.

CQ isn't the only sign-maker listed as the beneficiary of ADB's bounty. The other is Sign King of Arizona, owned by Jim Torgeson of Gilbert. Torgeson's known for his fight to save the endangered sign twirlers, many of which he employed in a company called Jet Media.

Torgeson once campaigned as a Democrat in a 2008 LD 20 primary before a certain legal beagle by the name of Tom Ryan, working on behalf of GOPer-turned-Dem Slade Meade, chased Torgeson off the ballot with a legal challenge.

Interestingly, Torgeson also did yard signs for Pearce-foe Jerry Lewis, so at least we know cash is king in this sign sultan's book.

The phone number I have for Torgeson was in permanent busy mode today, so I didn't get to ask him if his company did any work for Olivia Cortes. 

Secretary of State spokesman Matt Roberts told me that the SOS tried to get up with Sign King today, too, but no luck. He said that the SOS has been calling different sign companies asking them if they'll own to manufacturing Cortes' placards.

He further stated that the SOS will be wrapping up its Cortes-sign investigation "very soon." He noted that the SOS does not have subpoena power, and would have to get the Arizona Attorney General's office involved, if the SOS desired to go that route.

There are more issues concerning Cortes' candidacy, of course, such as who paid Diane Burns' company Petition Pros to solicit signatures on Cortes' behalf. Roberts told me previously that the SOS is waiting to see who files what this week in regards to campaign finance reports, before deciding whether or not to expand its investigation.

Campaign finance reports for candidates and IEs are due in by day's end October 27, you see. Which should give the local press corps plenty to do this week.

As far as who gave to Querard's pro-Pearce IE, contributors include the Maricopa County GOP's pro-Pearce IE ($7,500), Courtland Homes ($2,500), businessman Earl Johnson and his company Johnson Stewart ($10,000, total), as well as a mysterious Phoenix resident by the name of J.B. Rush ($4,500). 

I have my suspicions about Rush, but I'll have to suss that out a bit more before I publish anything.

I nearly forgot, the Rose Law Group (Jordan Rich Rose, proprietress and wife of pseudo-political guru Jason Rose) hedged its bets with a paltry $500.

Funny, if any of the money donated by these fine, upstanding individuals and entities found its way into the effort to assist Cortes, they will have -- inadvertently, no doubt -- helped Cortes' backers commit a fraud on the electorate.

One that may yet work, should Cortes' name, still on the ballot despite her official withdrawal, pull enough votes to save Pearce's political career.

UPDATE October 25, 4:43 PM: I spoke with Torgeson today, and he told me that he had nothing to do with the Cortes signs. The money he received from Querard's IE, he explained, was for signs that read MeetRussellPearce.com.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons