This seasoned sapsucker's nested in many a state. But he's never found one quite as hospitable to Adolf Hitler-worshippers and other varmints of the white-power type as here in Sand Land.
Granted, The Bird's always figured that no place could be so tolerant of white supremacy and neo-Nazis as the Deep South, whence he sprang.
But in fabled Dixie, certain things are just not done. Even if certain Southerners would like to see Confederate President Jefferson Davis reincarnated for a third-party run against John McCain and Barack Obama.
Being photographed with known National Socialists is one of those things that ain't done — especially by legislators and wanna-be congressmen. You might be a big ol' bigot like the recently croaked U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, an unrepentant segregationist 'til his dementia-addled demise in July, but being pictured with a not-so-secret swastika-wearer? That'd be the proverbial double-pucker of death for a mainstream pol below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Not that white supremacists never snake their way into modern-day Southern politics. Take former Klan leader David Duke's 1991 run for Louisiana governor. Still, back then, nearly everybody but the ofay bottomfeeders that voted for him was raising bloody Hades to make sure Duke went down. And down he did go.
We have our own version of David Duke here in the Zona, and his name is Russell Pearce. That's not to say the Mesa state Representative has ever been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, or a neo-Nazi organization. He just snuggles up to their ilk, like a rattlesnake next to a warm body in the desert. That, and he sponsors the kind of legislation they dig: economy-punishing employer sanctions; laws against renting to the undocumented; apartheid-like marriage laws; and a proposal to deny birth certificates to American children born to undocumented parents.
It'd be bad enough if Pearce were just suggesting a revival of Mexican-roundups like Operation Wetback, as he did in 2006. But Pearce has taken further steps, like forwarding an e-mail from the neo-Nazi National Alliance to his supporters, also in '06. He's curried the favor of brown-bashing organizations such as ex-KIA peddler Rusty Childress' United for a Sovereign America, the most vile anti-immigrant hate-group in the Valley. And he maintained relations with an avowed white supremacist, long after that racist freak was outed as such.
The Bird's talking about Pearce's association with lard-ass stormtrooper J.T. Ready, with whom The Bird watched Pearce work a crowd back in June 2007. Pearce listened and applauded as Ready rocked the rabble gathered on the Arizona Capitol lawn that day. In his speech, Ready spoke of jerking black-robed jurists around by their collars and said he and his comrades had been "treasoned" by U.S. Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain. Ready also outlined a plan for the Marines to close off all ports and borders and start mopping up the interior.
Onstage, Ready never mentioned that he'd been twice court-martialed and booted from the Marines, as revealed by the East Valley Tribune back in 2006, not long after his failed run for the Mesa City Council. Pearce must have known about Ready's ignominious exit from the armed forces (unless the guy doesn't read his hometown newspaper). Still, he hung out with him that day, as if he were the younger man's political mentor.
The Anti-Defamation League had already made a very public connection between Ready and white supremacy during a March 2007 seminar on the tone of the immigration debate put together by state Representative Kyrsten Sinema. Is it possible Pearce was unaware of Ready's unsavory affiliations? Was he ignorant of Ready's attendance at a 2006 neo-Nazi bash called Winterfest — and of Ready's page on NewSaxon.com (now NewSaxon.org), "an online community for whites by whites," where Ready's known by the handle "Viking Son" — despite the ADL's discussing such facts during the March seminar?
"I find that very hard to believe," Sinema told this tweeter. "The entire Legislature was invited to the event. The whole thing was videotaped, and you can watch it on our archive. And I reported it on the floor [of the state House]."
Since spying Ready and Pearce's palling around in 2007, The Bird's been spewing disgust far and wide and wondering why the dailies have ignored this nefarious link. After the June event, The Bird and his blogging cousin Feathered Bastard reported Ready's attendance at a September neo-Nazi rally in Omaha, Nebraska.
In previous columns, The Bird also revealed that Ready was quietly elected a Republican precinct committeeman in 2006. That Ready distributed anti-Semitic and racist literature at a meeting of the Maricopa County Republican Party. And that Ready had been arrested in 2007 for displaying a fictitious license on his vehicle, and having an illegal preemption emitter. That's one of those devices that allow firemen to speed through lights.
Ready was also in possession of a 9-millimeter gun and white-power literature. Given the fact that, in 2006, Ready got into a strange shootout with an illegal alien strapped with only a BB gun, one wonders what Ready was on the prowl for the night he was taken in.
This persistent pelican buttonholed Pearce at a roast for our corrupt top constable, Joe Arpaio, late last year in Sun City, but when asked about him being BFF with a National Socialist, Pearce took up for J.T., kinda-sorta.
"I don't think J.T.'s a bad guy," Pearce said at the time. "I think his association with these groups is wrong."
Not a "bad guy"? Obviously, Pearce didn't want to part with the two-ton turd-Reicher, no matter how much trouble he'd been in.
Along has come Republican dive-bomber Nathan Sproul, who has devised a number of attack fliers, being mailed to Mesa homes, that deal with various icky issues regarding Pearce: what got Pearce fired from his job with the Arizona Motor Vehicles Division; the domestic-violence accusations leveled against Pearce by his wife, LuAnne, in a divorce petition from 1980 that The Bird first reported; and the relationship with Ready, the most revolting of Pearce's sins.
After looking the other way for so long, Pearce's supporters and the political and media establishment that has nourished him have chosen to defend the roughneck racist. Conservative blogs such as Mesa Issues, Sonoran Alliance, and even EspressoPundit have decried the Sproul fliers on behalf of Mesa Deserves Better, an independent expenditure committee financed in part by Carl's Jr. mogul and moderate Republican Jason LeVecke.
When it was found out that Pearce's rival for the open state Senate seat he's running for — fellow Republican and Mormon Kevin Gibbons — had inadvertently taken dolo from Democratic kingpin Jim Pederson and his family, the Maricopa County GOP endorsed Pearce in a snit. Where's the outrage over Pearce's playing patty-cake with a neo-Nazi? Apparently, Dems are worse than Nazis in the local-yokel version of the Party of Abe Lincoln.
Congressman turned radio wing-nut J.D. Hayworth pulled back from an endorsement of Pearce in '06 when the controversy over the National Alliance e-mail hit (a fact noted in the Sproul flier). But recently on his KFYI 550-AM show, Hayworth vociferously defended Pearce in light of the Sproul mailers, saying he got bad advice from his advisers in '06. Hey, at least we know what you really think now, J.D. Um, or do we?
What about the paper of record? Well, middlebrow Rep columnist Laurie Roberts, who never found a white victim of a DUI driver she didn't want to write about, accepted at face value Pearce's excuses about the Ready pic.
"[Ready] was one of our precinct committemen," Pearce told her. "Nobody knew that he was a bad guy at that time."
Au contraire, Russ. The ADL, Sinema, this raven, this raven's readers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and countless others knew better back then. Actually, all of us would wager a guess that you knew better, too.
Laurie Roberts' and her paper's sympathy for the devil have extended beyond Pearce's neo-Nazi coddling. They're also defending the Mesa Republican against 28-year-old allegations of spousal abuse leveled by his wife, LuAnne, in a sworn, notarized divorce petition dated 1980.
"LuAnne now says the claim wasn't true," Roberts notes. No duh, Laurie. Where'd you read that first? In The Bird?
The Bird broke that story, along with the Pearces' denials, and their hard-to-buy suggestion that the lawyer that drafted the document on LuAnne's behalf in 1980 concocted the whole dang thing.
The fact that one of Nathan Sproul's mean ol' fliers repeated the allegations forced Roberts and others at the Rep to get off their duffs and write about it. See, at bottom, the Rep upholds the status quo because it's a member in good standing of the power elite in this town. The Rep might occasionally print a tough article about a politico but it never goes after one whole-hog, in the tradition of great muckraking journalism.
A better reporter than Roberts might wonder about the lawyer that wrote LuAnne's divorce petition and, perhaps, call him up. The Bird did so when he first divulged the Pearce domestic-abuse allegations. The attorney's name is E. Evans Farnsworth, currently a pro-tem judge in Chandler.
Now, when first confronted with the domestic-abuse claims, Pearce could have just owned up to the abuse and admitted it was a wound in his marriage that had long since healed, one that had never been repeated. Instead, he put it off on Judge Farnsworth. On KTAR's Darrell Ankarlo show, both he and the radio host suggested that it was just the case of a legal beagle being a legal beagle.
Never mind that, in doing so, they maligned the reputation of a jurist who was careful to touch base with the state Bar before speaking with the Taloned One at length. Farnsworth does not recall LuAnne Pearce's petition, and his files have long since been purged of the matter (though the petition itself remains public record with the Maricopa County Superior Court).
Farnsworth patiently went through every step of the process that his firm had for preparing such documents back then, from filling out an intake form and conducting an interview with the client to going over every paragraph of the doc once it was ready and having the client swear under oath that the foregoing was accurate.
"I would have never put anything in a petition that I knew not to be true," avowed the 69-year-old judge. "Because it would be perjury on the client's part and unethical on my part."
Indeed, Farnsworth never wanted to go before a judge "with egg on my face," he said. As a devout member of the Mormon Church, he regularly advised his clients that it was better to work things out in counseling rather than have the marriage go asunder.
Farnsworth had little to gain and everything to lose had it been his inclination to include an untrue statement. One glance at the Pearce petition, and the knowledge that Russ was but a lowly sheriff's deputy back then, quickly informs that there was no big money at stake. Why would a lawyer risk his practice for a routine divorce filing?
Mrs. Pearce's statement is too specific and does not suggest having been invented by someone else. It bears repeating here:
"Further, the husband, RUSSELL KEITH PEARCE, is possessed of a violent temper, and has from time to time hit and shoved the wife, the last time being on February 3 , when he grabbed the wife by the throat and threw her down."
Did Mrs. Pearce commit perjury when she made this accusation? Or is she now simply trying to protect her husband? The latter would be understandable.
"I never filed a petition, ever, where I didn't sit down with a client," explained Farnsworth, "go through the petition, and make sure that they understood they were signing it under oath, on pains of perjury, and that everything contained in the petition was what they told me and was true."
If Roberts and the rest are unconcerned with Pearce's temper in 1980 and what it might say about the man now, they might at least show some curiosity about the judge Pearce is badmouthing left and right.
Finally, The Bird has also acquired from the Mesa Police Department an incident report from 1974 detailing how Russell Pearce busted down a door to get to his then-estranged first wife (not LuAnne, who is his second wife). According to the apartment manager where the deed allegedly went down, Pearce was trying to catch his wife with another man. Pearce accused his first wife of plying an underage lover with beer.
"[His first wife] said she went to bed and went to sleep," states the report. "She said that she heard a noise, got up, and went into the living room. At this point, Russell came crashing through the front door."
Does something that happened so long ago matter? Well, in the opinion of this avian, yes, because it tends to back up LuAnne's 1980 contention that her husband was "possessed of a violent temper." And since this is a police report, there's no attorney on whom to lay the blame.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.