Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's "Sham" Candidate Olivia Cortes Sued by LD 18 Voter

Hot off the presses: A lawsuit brought by elections law attorney Tom Ryan on behalf of Legislative District 18 voter Mary Lou Boettcher, challenging the legitimacy of Olivia Cortes, the so-called "sham" recall candidate put forward by friends, family and supporters of state Senate President Russell Pearce.

Ryan was responsible for the successful defense of the recall petitions filed by Citizens for a Better Arizona. That case was appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, which ultimately let a lower court's dismissal stand.

In this case, however, Ryan is not bringing the suit on behalf of CBA and he is not being paid for his services.

"I am totally pro bono," he told me via e-mail. "This is not in any way involved with the CBA or the Campaign of Jerry Lewis. This is an effort to assist the voters of LD 18 to have the fairest, and most importantly, cleanest election possible. May the most honorable candidate win."

Boettcher is a retired schoolteacher and supporter of the recall. She recently tried to confront Pearce at a fundraising event held by lobbyists on his behalf at Alexi's Grill in Phoenix. There, Boettcher made it clear she's no Pearce fan.

"He's so anti-everything I believe in," she said of Pearce. "Like public education."

She also despised Pearce's my-way-or-the-highway attitude.

"If someone doesn't vote the way he wanted them to, he says, `Well, I'll see that you don't get elected again,'" she told me.

In the complaint, Ryan reviews recent history, including statements made by Pearce's top adviser Chuck Coughlin, and Pearce supporters, as well as actions that bolster the contention that Cortes is a plant.

The lawsuit states that,

"Upon information and belief, Contestee [Cortes] was recruited by supporters of Russell Pearce, in a cynical ploy to take away votes from the candidate Jerry Lewis. Upon information and belief Contestant alleges these supporters believe that the Spanish speaking qualified electors of LD 18 who are dissatisfied with, and afraid of, Senator Russell Pearce's harsh immigration rhetoric and legislation will be misled into believing that Contestee Cortes would be a viable alternative, when in fact she is a sham. 

"Thus, those votes would be drained away from candidate Jerry Lewis and throwing the election to Recalled Senator Pearce. Upon information and belief, Contestant alleges that supporters of Russell Pearce hope to confuse Spanish Speaking qualified electors in thinking that Olivia Cortes is their candidate of choice, thus depriving such voters from the real alternative to Recalled Senator Pearce, Jerry Lewis."

To prevent this from happening, Ryan is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent Cortes' name from being placed on the November 8 ballot.

You can read the entire complaint for yourself, here.

Early voting was set to begin October 13 in the recall election. 

Interestingly, Cortes, the candidate that refuses to come to her door, now has a Web site at oliviacortes.com. The gall of the Pearce people knows no bounds.

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