LONG AFTER THE shocking videotapes of AzScam had stopped showing up on the evening news, word of the last two indictments crept almost casually into the newspapers.
In the main, the stories said that Rick DeGraw, a well-known political consultant for Arizona Democrats, was charged with obstruction of justice. It was only toward the end of the articles that C.A. Harrison and the perjury charges were mentioned. Even if you knew Charlie Harrison--and a lot of people know him, some who would rather not admit it--it was easy to remain unaware of the fate that had befallen him.
That was in August, and the story of Charlie Harrison's involvement with the AzScam political-corruption sting hasn't become clearer since, at least not publicly. Even Harrison, an ultra- loquacious gay-rights activist, has been discreet about the details, to the extent that he ever remains mum about anything.
Now, however, a transcript of the confidential grand jury hearings has become public record, and Harrison has also responded to questions about the hearings. What emerges is perhaps the most personal of the AzScam sagas, a story that's not about greed and political gain so much as it's about friendship and betrayal.
It's the story of Bobby Raymond--a former truck driver with a GED and a burning ambition to make something of himself at the Arizona State Legislature--and Harrison, a quite outrageous character who rallied the gay community in order to thrust Raymond into office, and then stood by him. Even after Raymond has dragged Harrison directly into the AzScam mess by the legs and ruptured every aspect of Harrison's life, Harrison refuses to be irritated about it.
"Bobby Raymond was to my politics what somebody's accountant is to their accounting," he says of the reason he didn't second-guess Raymond. It was Raymond who decided to use Harrison's name as a political "contributor," a front for money that actually had been given illegally to Raymond by Joseph Stedino, the undercover police agent who lured state legislators into the "sting" by posing as a businessman intent on legalizing gambling in Arizona. Lending his name to Raymond was Harrison's only involvement in the sting.
"Whatever he said, I didn't question," Harrison says. "How can anybody who is busy to any significant degree question every action of the people he relies on? But I knew that Bobby would never do anything intentional to hurt me, and I don't think so now."
Harrison doesn't want any credit for this extraordinary largess--he just thinks everyone who has deserted Raymond since last winter, when the west Phoenix legislator was the first of the AzScam sinners to accept a plea bargain, ought to be ashamed. "The Democratic party looked like a bunch of worms runnin' from a blowtorch," he says of his own party's reaction to Raymond's travails, every indignant word lengthened by his thick Arkansas drawl. "I just don't think it's a very nice thing to kick a man when he's down."
To some, Harrison's upbeat response to his serious problem--after all, he's been indicted on two felonies in connection with his grand jury testimony about Raymond and others--just seems foolish. When asked whether Harrison fully comprehends the implications of his situation, another gay activist muses, "I prefer to say that he is naive. That is the nicest way I know of saying he is a happy idiot."
Though the Raymond-Harrison story is a fascinating one, it is not by a long shot the only compelling tale contained in the transcripts. This rare look inside a secret government court also throws light on the inner workings of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office as its members conducted the business of AzScam. According to letters and motions filed by Harrison's attorney, Bob Hirsh of Tucson, the prosecutor's treatment of Harrison amounted to nothing more than a setup in an arena--the grand jury--that is prone to such abuse. Acknowledged as a tool for prosecutors, a grand jury proceeding offers no opportunities for a target to present a defense.
Hirsh, one of the state's premier defense attorneys, accuses county prosecutor Judson Roberts, in effect, of orchestrating the "perjury" with which Harrison was later charged, and of grandstanding for the members of the jury in order to prejudice them that Harrison was lying. Hirsh says that, in spite of the manipulations and theatrics, the purported perjury never occurred.
And even if Hirsh's rhetoric is dismissed as lawyerly hyperbole, several surprising revelations are apparent in the record regarding the grand jury hearings--hearings intended as forums for investigating crimes and determining probable cause, but not for actually entrapping witnesses so that they will commit crimes while under oath.
Prior to the testimonies given by Harrison and his roommate Randy Mackey, the County Attorney's Office had tapped their home telephone and the home and business telephones of Rick DeGraw with "pen register" devices. (These devices record the times of all calls, their originations and destinations, but not the contents.)
Prosecutor Roberts informed the members of the grand jury in private that three telephone calls had passed between DeGraw and the Harrison-Mackey residence in the five days following Harrison's first testimony. Then Roberts asked the jurors not to reveal their knowledge of the taps or specific calls between DeGraw and either Mackey or Harrison while the roommates testified again.
The line of questioning that followed seemed intended to entrap Mackey and Harrison into denying the calls, of which the grand jury was already aware.
Harrison was called back before the grand jury on this second, and final, occasion only after prosecutor Roberts had received a letter from Harrison's then-attorney Clark Derrick that apparently was a result of Harrison's desire to "clarify" some aspects of his first testimony.
Roberts' questions to Harrison during the second interrogation were concerned primarily with the portions of the first testimony that Derrick's letter addressed, and Roberts repeatedly implied that Harrison was now lying. Despite the aggressive questioning, Harrison disavowed Derrick's letter and probably never recanted earlier testimony: His final confrontation with Roberts is too convoluted and confusing to show for sure. What is clear from reading the transcripts is that if Harrison perjured himself during this exchange, that is the exact thing he was brought before the grand jury a second time to do.
Roberts then compelled attorney Clark Derrick to testify against Harrison, his former client, about communications that had transpired between them that had led to Derrick's composing the letter. (Harrison had assumed these communications were privileged and during his own testimony had refused to reveal them on that basis.) Following Derrick's damaging statements, Harrison was indicted on two counts of perjury. Since Harrison's indictment, the County Attorney's Office has offered Harrison a sweet deal in exchange for his testimony against DeGraw, an indication that it was the powerful Democrat prosecutors were after all along. Harrison was only a pawn, but being used has cost him the shape of his former life.
ON THE MORNING that he's to be interviewed for this article, Charlie Harrison tries to postpone the appointment. He's not wanting to hedge; he's just got too much to do. He's in the middle of helping Phoenix City Councilmember Linda Nadolski ram through an antidiscrimination amendment to the city code that would extend protection to gays, the disabled and other minorities. He says he could really use the time.
"The fags have gone wild!" he shouts happily into the telephone. "We mailed 152 cards to [Phoenix Mayor] Paul Johnson in one night, and that was before we were even organized!" He launches into an analysis of the 152 letters, based on the addresses of the authors and their city council districts, but interrupts himself before he's through.
He wants to tell a marvelous story about the city subcommittee meeting that happened the other day, and the way he found himself, as a behind-the-scenes organizer for public testimony, needing a handicapped person to testify.
Harrison's style of organization could be called haphazard, and it certainly involves a strong element of fate, so on his way into the meeting he espied Jon O'Brien, a wheelchair-bound man who was hawking newspapers near City Hall. Harrison convinced O'Brien to accompany him. When O'Brien hesitated in favor of his responsibilities, Harrison simply bought all the man's newspapers.
Harrison is crowing about his luck--he is quite carried away--and has to be reminded about the interview. "Just tell me this: How much of a problem is it going to be if we don't do the interview until tomorrow?" he wants to know. He is told: A big problem. "Okay, hang on," he says, and he cuts out of the connection suddenly. When he returns, he's got his attorney, Hirsh, on the three-way line, because he wants everything he says to be monitored. A couple of minutes into the interview, he cuts out, again abruptly, apparently to talk to someone who's in the room with him. "Sor-ry," he says as he swoops back into the conversation.
It is not an unusual exchange; it's always this difficult to talk to Harrison, and it's usually worse. "If you go to a meeting, he is doing a million things at once and you cannot have a linear conversation with him," says a local attorney who has dealt with Harrison on political issues. "But he is also willing to put up with the incredible shitwork that goes with organizing grassroots political things. I think that he makes up in energy and dedication what he lacks in focus and sophistication."
Others are not so kind, and consider Harrison hopelessly scattered. Some of these others are his closest friends. "I have said I will never ask him to dinner again, because you can never pin him down or plan," says architect Wilson Jones. "I can see how it might appear to people who don't know him that he is trying to be elusive." And Ed Buck, the organizer of the Evan Mecham Recall of '88, remembers asking Harrison not to work with him. "He is always late, he tends to overextend himself," Buck says. "I remember having a discussion with him and saying, `Let's just be friends. Let's not be involved in the recall together.'"
Whatever Harrison's level of vagueness, there is still no lack of demand for his time. Nadolski says that, when she decided to push for the antidiscrimination amendment, Harrison was the first person she telephoned. "He has the most active dialing finger in town," she says. "And it is easy to work with Charlie because he is trying to find a way to get something done without causing pain. He has a way of supporting people while they are disagreeing with him."
Nadolski's ordinance, a watered-down version of which passed last Wednesday, is only one of many political gauntlets that Harrison has run in recent years. He was instrumental, behind the scenes, in Paul Johnson's victory over fellow Phoenix City Councilmember Howard Adams for the appointment as mayor when then-Mayor Terry Goddard abdicated in order to seek the governor's office. Harrison has made a difference in the elections of county supervisor Carole Carpenter, GOP Representative Susan Gerard, former GOP Representative Candice Nagel and others whom he hesitates to name, since he fears that public association with the gay community would taint them and make them less effective. Earlier this year, he worked in favor of Attorney General Grant Woods' hate-crimes bill that, had it passed, would have punished more severely the perpetrators of gay-bashing.
"I think he has talked to every politician in the state on behalf of the gay community," says a behind-the-scenes gay activist who asks not to be named. "He is just some guy who wants people to be nicer to people like him. And, for whatever reason, he has not turned that into power-building for himself, which is what a lot of other people do."
The activist adds that some members of the gay community disapprove of Harrison maintaining his high profile since the perjury indictment: "A lot of people think that, regardless of the merits of the charges, he should have gone into the background. But I think he correctly knows that if he did, no one else would do the work he is doing."
All of this frantic politicking began in the name of AIDS, the disease that has panicked a world far beyond Harrison's. "If it hadn't been for the AIDS crisis, I never would have lifted a finger," says Harrison, who has made his living in property management and the restaurant business, and who appears on first acquaintance (and second) to be far too happy-go-lucky to apply himself passionately to anything. "I was like most other homosexuals," he says. "Most people had not a clue that I was gay, and I was perfectly content with that. But the AIDS crisis brought people out of the closet because their friends were dying."
Realizing that the gay community couldn't handle the many repercussions of AIDS alone, Harrison became intent on placing in office the public officials who would give proper attention to this cause. Ed Buck says, "I remember Charlie saying that if we raised $100,000 and spent it on patient care, it would last three months. But that $100,000 spent on putting the right people in the legislature would help protect us from extreme legislations and would also help secure funding."
It is more than ironic that Harrison's very first campaign toward this end was Bobby Raymond's, and that Harrison found Raymond to be stiff and unlikable initially. (In fairness to Raymond, Harrison's personal style is so unrestrained that it's likely he views much of the world's population as sticks in the mud. When it is pointed out to him, for instance, that significant portions of the gay community he is trying to save find his manner of referring to them constantly as "fags" quite horrifying, he only says impatiently, "I think it's a bad image for the gay community to be haughty and arrogant and not fun.")
He says he stumped for Raymond almost at random out of the array of candidates that was running against Trent Franks, an archconservative Republican who was proposing an AIDS quarantine law for Arizona. Harrison telephoned his contacts on Raymond's behalf, distributed literature and raised funds, and on the weekends he escorted Raymond to gay bars, an unprecedented strategy in Arizona politics that Harrison later would repeat with great success in support of legislator Sue Laybe (herself an AzScam casualty).
The work paid off dramatically. Raymond defeated Franks, an incumbent, by 190 out of 40,000 votes, a margin so slim that it surely couldn't have happened without the gay community, whose ranks had never before been approached as a voting bloc. "That sort of sent ripples through the election process, and they realized what a force the gay community could be," says Harrison.
It also netted in Raymond a true loyalist for the gay community--if you don't count the little misstep on Raymond's part, once he had succumbed to the temptations of Joseph Stedino, that has gotten Harrison so involved with the legal system.
According to Harrison, Raymond kept visiting the bars once elected, in order to keep his constituency in touch with AIDS-related legislation and issues. He was also completely available by telephone to Harrison and other gay community leaders, a pledge that represented no small time commitment, since Harrison is maddeningly inclined to repeatedly talk everything over. Most of all, Raymond stood by his vow to champion sane AIDS legislation when he supported AIDS education in grades K through 12 in Arizona, when he spoke out for the AIDS Omnibus Bill that established the confidentiality of HIV-related information in Arizona and when he blockaded AIDS-related measures that he considered harmful.
In particular, Harrison remembers watching Raymond's performance as a member of a legislative committee, when he was up against scores of Phoenix police officers, all of them advocating mandatory AIDS testing and access to medical records for law officers. "He just dug his heels in and said, not `No' but `Hell, no!'" Harrison says. "He was better educated about AIDS and had stronger principles than I did. And he stood his ground when virtually no one else would."
This sort of account of Raymond's dedication to an issue--or to the people behind the issue, at least--is not an unusual one among Raymond's admirers. Notwithstanding Raymond's quote on the famous AzScam videotapes that will follow him to his grave--"There's not an issue in the world that I give a shit about"--more than 60 supportive letters, many of them from constituents and associates at the legislature, described him to Judge Ronald Reinstein prior to his sentencing as a devoted legislator who actually cared greatly.
"Being a legislator was not a little deal to him. He wasn't parading around a law degree or a military retirement or have a wealthy spouse. He didn't carry those kinds of credentials," says former Department of Public Safety director Ralph Milstead, who recommended Raymond to Judge Reinstein and plans to testify next month at Raymond's parole hearing. "He was a working stiff who found something that he really liked and put his heart into it."
Milstead remembers Raymond as one of the state's few full-time lawmakers, someone who came into the office every day of the year whether the legislature was in session or not. He says Raymond possessed a keen interest in prison development and the treatment of prisoners--to the extent that he once argued face to face with the warden of the Perryville prison about the amount of toilet paper prisoners were receiving. "He said on the [AzScam] video that he `did deals,'" says Milstead. "Well, that's just not so. There were no deals to be made over toilet paper. He was acting from his heart."
Others remember that, when accounts of unusual numbers of cancer cases among Maryvale children hit the press, Raymond tirelessly pressured reluctant Department of Health Services officials to produce a new study of factors causing illness among his constituency, and ultimately locked in the funding for it.
They remember, in short, that Raymond applied himself, and that others benefited. Of course, Raymond benefited, too, and always sought to. He is remembered by lobbyists and onlookers for possessing a slightly "greasy" presence and for his outspoken self-promotion. At the moment of his downfall, he was considered an "up-and-comer" who wanted, and would probably attain, a leadership position in the House.
By Raymond's own account to Judge Reinstein, it was his ambition, pure and simple, that allowed him to accept undercover agent Joseph Stedino's offer of $10,000 in cash, and $2,105 more later, while boasting that he was willing to do nearly anything in exchange, short of sticking "ice picks up people's noses." (To Reinstein, Raymond minimized this reference and his other tough AzScam talk as "sheer puffery.")
"In accepting [money from Stedino], I took a fatal step away from myself," Raymond wrote the judge.
And he took his friends with him.
CHARLIE HARRISON'S only involvement in AzScam was his name. Raymond received far more money from Stedino than he could legally funnel into Democratic campaigns, according to Arizona's campaign-contribution laws. He needed the names of "contributors" to whom he could credit the money. According to his testimony before the grand jury that indicted Harrison and DeGraw, Raymond asked four men if he could use their names: Harrison, Harrison's roommate Randy Mackey, Raymond's close personal friend Gary Cluff (an insurance executive) and Cluff's employee Dennis Davison.
Harrison, Mackey, Cluff and Davison all maintained to the grand jury that no "asking" occurred--that Raymond simply informed Harrison and Cluff after the fact and told them to pass the word to Mackey and Davison.
Raymond did admit under oath the ugliest detail of his AzScam shenanigans: a betrayal of Cluff, one of his closest confidants, that may even overshadow the way he knowingly betrayed his constituents' trust. Cluff, who kept himself up-to-date on political rumors, had heard about Stedino--known to legislators as "J. Anthony Vincent"--and didn't like the sound of Stedino's dealings. When Raymond spoke with his friend Cluff about using Cluff's name on campaign-contribution money orders, Cluff asked directly whether any of the money being laundered came from Stedino, indicating that, if so, he wouldn't want to be associated with it.
Raymond denied it, and Cluff was later called before the grand jury as a result of the lie. Like Davison, Mackey and Harrison, Cluff was offered immunity by the County Attorney's Office in exchange for his testimony. (Unlike the others, Harrison's immunity agreement failed to protect him completely because the prosecutor felt he'd been untruthful.) After he'd involved his friends, Raymond later testified, he began to feel apprehensive. He had heard rumors at the State Capitol of an investigation of Stedino by the Attorney General's Office. (In fact, Attorney General Grant Woods knew of the "sting" operation and never planned such an investigation.) According to the transcripts, Raymond contacted political consultant Rick DeGraw to ask him to "clean up" the donations--that is, to make them appear legal.
That Raymond knew the donations were illegal isn't in doubt--he admitted it to the grand jury, and he later plea-bargained to five felonies. That DeGraw knew he was involving himself in something illegal may be the case, as well, if lobbyist Rich Scheffel told the truth to the grand jury.
Scheffel, who became involved with Stedino and later began acting as an informant for the County Attorney's Office, also supplied "names" for the donations and told DeGraw personally that he didn't want to go to jail for the act. "And at that point," Scheffel testified, "[DeGraw] got up from his desk and walked over and opened up the Arizona Revised Statutes, I assume to the pages that spell out the penalties for violations of the law, and he told me not to worry, it's only a misdemeanor."
According to grand jury testimony, DeGraw agreed to "clean up" the donations in exchange for $5,000, and then commenced to do so. In the course of fulfilling his contract, he spoke with Harrison about the donations made in Harrison's name. That conversation was a major focus of Harrison's first testimony before the grand jury on June 12, 1991.
It was testimony that no one in attendance is likely to forget. Harrison says now that he was very nervous at the time, but that is not the primary impression that pierces through the transcripts. His ebullience seems to leap off the pages, as though, even while walking across a minefield, he couldn't resist performing a little jig. Asked what he'd discussed with DeGraw in their most recent conversation, he said he'd asked the political consultant how to get his house debugged. Then he volunteered, "He told me to go to--what is it?--Spy Headquarters. I'll bet they're doing a booming business lately." Another time, asked whether he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs--no other witness was asked that question--Harrison quipped, "No, be nice to be, but I am not. If you have any, I am available."
In addition to being full of life, Harrison's testimony was pretty empty of specifics. In contrast to others' testimonies, in which witnesses carefully pinned down dates and exact conversations, most of what Harrison offered to the grand jury was sweepingly vague, as is his personal style. His statements were characterized by so many qualifications and disclaimers that he must have appeared greatly evasive to strangers. At one point Roberts even asked him, "Do you have memory problems?"
"Well, I must confess that I did not pay much attention to this stuff at the time it was happening. And I regret it more than you will ever know," Harrison replied.
Roberts repeated: "That's not my question. Do you have memory problems?"
Harrison replied: "Yeah, I do. I do have memory problems."
To the extent that he managed to testify about anything relevant--despite his disorganized mind--Harrison said he didn't think about it deeply when Raymond first told him his name had been used on a contribution: "I remember that I was surprised that it had been done, and I remember that it was an awkward situation to ask about it, and I sort of said . . . you know, I had never had any problem with anything Bobby had done before, and I said . . . well, you know, I was in the middle of being busy and I didn't think about it very much." (Raymond testifed at the grand jury hearings that neither Harrison nor Cluff ever asked whether lending their names was illegal--that they trusted him not to hurt them.)
In a roundabout way, Harrison also eventually characterized his discussion with DeGraw about the contribution, as DeGraw had gone about his "cleaning up" efforts:
"[DeGraw] was working on the Goddard campaign and I was working on the Goddard campaign and he said--let me think--I can't remember how it came about, but anyway, he said that these are the people you are supposed to have contributed money for, and . . . he said, `If anybody, you know, calls you, just say that you contributed this money.'"
Roberts then reiterated, "And he said, `If anyone calls you . . . ,'"
Harrison said, "Just say: `Yes, that you contributed.'"
It was this part of his testimony that got Harrison into trouble. (Harrison also got himself into trouble over another part of his testimony--he was indicted on two counts of perjury--but both parts revolved around the same thing: his dealings with DeGraw.)
Five days after Harrison testified, on June 17, Clark Derrick, who was then Harrison's lawyer, wrote a letter to prosecutor Roberts: "My client [has] contacted me to inform me that he had recalled a conversation with Rick DeGraw which he felt was important and had inadvertently been omitted from his grand jury testimony. . . . What he now recalls and forgot to mention in his grand jury testimony is DeGraw's statement . . . `You may get a call about [the campaign contributions] and, if you do, just tell the truth to whoever calls.'"
After Roberts received Derrick's letter, he summoned Harrison and Mackey before the grand jury again.
Before reexamining Harrison, prosecutor Roberts had advised the grand jurors of the letter. He had also told them about the "pen register" tap that had been placed on Harrison's and DeGraw's telephones that had shown three calls between DeGraw and Harrison's residence between the time of Harrison's first testimony and the time Derrick drafted the letter.
Without specifically describing it, the situation Roberts foreshadowed for the jurors was one in which Harrison had told DeGraw about his testimony, DeGraw had explained it was very damaging to him and Harrison had then attempted to save him.
Earlier this month, Roberts spelled out this scenario very specifically, indeed, in court pleadings. "Harrison's original testimony concerning DeGraw was specific, incriminating as to DeGraw, and consistent with DeGraw's own statements which were recorded on audio and videotape [during AzScam]," he wrote. "Contained in the letter to the State by Derrick . . . [is a] version of Harrison's meeting with DeGraw which [is] inconsistent with Harrison's own testimony on June 12 . . . ." Roberts said if Harrison's statements, as represented in Derrick's letter, were false, that they were an attempt "to obstruct the grand jury's investigation." (Roberts himself has declined to comment on this case, saying it is still pending.) The problem with this theory was that as soon as Harrison was confronted with Derrick's letter he disavowed it, saying that he hadn't seen it before it was mailed and that it didn't represent his feelings.
He also tried to, in his words, "clarify" his previous testimony about DeGraw in a rambling fashion that the jurors must by now have grown quite used to.
"The first time that I really thought about that meeting [with DeGraw] . . . was when you asked me about it," he testified. " . . . I guess I've done a tremendous amount of thinking about it since then, almost nothing except thinking about that meeting and what transpired, and I frankly thought about it to the point now that I'm totally confused. . . . Having had two weeks to think about it, or whatever, my memory of it is very poor."
Poor memory or not, he wound up being indicted for perjury.
The indictment draws a direct contrast between testimonies that appears to be an unmistakable contradiction. Harrison is quoted as saying during his first testimony: "[DeGraw] said: `If anybody, you know, calls you, just say that you contributed this money.'"
During Harrison's second appearance, Roberts posed this question: "I would like you to give me a yes or no answer. [Did Rick DeGraw] tell you something to the effect that if you were contacted about the contributions you should claim them?" Harrison is quoted in the indictment as telling the grand jurors, "I don't remember."
Although both these quotes did occur, they do not, when plucked out of context, even begin to communicate the nature of Harrison's testimony about what DeGraw did or did not say to him.
Even after reading the entire transcript, it may not be possible to decipher what Harrison testified about DeGraw. The prosecutor's questions are so convoluted, and Harrison's answers wander in so many directions--none of them concrete--that the proceeding is nearly incomprehensible.
What does seem somewhat clear is that Harrison made a repeated effort to make a single point: that, in retrospect, he was no longer sure of what DeGraw had said to him. Whatever the contents of Derrick's letter, Harrison never recanted his earlier testimony under oath, and never actually confirmed it, either.
What happened after Harrison testified for the second time may be the most disturbing part of the proceeding: Roberts compelled Clark Derrick, Harrison's attorney for the first hearing, to testify about the events that had caused him to write the fateful letter. (By this time, Derrick had withdrawn on ethical grounds as Harrison's attorney.)Harrison's new attorney, Bob Hirsh, contends that was both a violation of attorney-client confidentiality and an attempt to prejudice the grand jury against Harrison. In court documents, Roberts contends that Harrison's private conversations with Derrick weren't privileged, since they apparently were made for the purpose of committing a crime. Derrick provided a remarkable number of interesting details. He was very talkative in front of the grand jury; his seemingly willing testimony could strike deadly fear in the hearts of everyone who has consulted with a lawyer about anything that's sensitive.
He testified that Harrison had telephoned him after Harrison's first grand jury appearance and said, "`In retrospect, I got to tell you, I remember now more distinctly a conversation [with DeGraw].'" Derrick continued to quote Harrison as saying DeGraw "told me to say, `If anybody ever asks you about this, Charles, you just tell them the truth.'"
Without prompting from the prosecutor, Derrick continued: "I said: `Well, I am very, very troubled with the position that you are now putting me in if you are asking me to do anything to change this. . . . ' We really got into some argument on the telephone about why, in my opinion, what he was saying didn't make sense and why I thought that was something that wasn't in his best interest to now try and pursue."
In time, according to Derrick, Harrison wore him down. Derrick said that, against his will, he drafted the letter for Harrison. Before mailing it to Roberts, he added, he read it to Harrison over the telephone.
The grand jurors reached into this brew of confusion, conflict and accusation and pulled out their charges. DeGraw was accused of attempting to obstruct justice and Harrison was accused of perjury. Since then, according to the court records, the County Attorney's Office has offered an open-ended felony plea to Harrison--a plea agreement that specifies probation and a reduction of the charges to misdemeanors after some period of time--if he will "tell the truth" about DeGraw.
In a letter to the prosecutor, attorney Hirsh has responded thusly to the offer: "You should know . . . that Mr. Harrison stands willing to fulfill his responsibility to testify truthfully, notwithstanding any plea offer. Having reviewed the grand jury transcripts, I believe Mr. Harrison attempted to be truthful, despite the adverse circumstances and conditions which he was subjected to. Should you desire to use him as a witness, please contact me."
CHARLIE HARRISON is the sort of fellow who, in the middle of a holocaust, can tick off the damages with a ruefulness that is nonetheless amused. Ten days ago, for instance, he was inventorying personal carnage since his indictment and braying with edgy laughter as the list grew longer.
His long-term relationship with Randy Mackey has succumbed to the strain of the legal hassles, he says. His property-management business has shriveled from neglect as he has turned his attention to staying out of prison. The future career as a full-time, paid lobbyist that he had envisioned for himself is now out of the question, he says, "because people think you are guilty until proven innocent, and sometimes after."
On his own behalf, he is fatalistic about all these changes: "I think clearly part of the `sting' was set out to wreck the Democratic party . . . from the very beginning, from the issue that was chosen [legalized gambling] to the people that they pushed." He says this in a way that is spirited but not bitter. He is echoing an opinion that was much ballyhooed last winter, as legislators Raymond, Carolyn Walker and others went down beneath AzScam, and the Republican-led County Attorney's Office scrambled, unsuccessfully, to also try to ruin Senator Alan Stephens and Representative Art Hamilton, the two most powerful Democrats at the Capitol. "I think that the fact that the gay community has become a force and that I am a substantial part of that force, that clearly they do not object to drawing me into this," Harrison says.
He goes on, "I am dealing with this the way I deal with everything else. I make a conscious effort to do my best. I have done my best in looking for the best attorney, and there is not much more I can do."
It is only on behalf of Bobby Raymond that his fatalism finally cracks.
"I fully believe that if it hadn't been for Bobby Raymond that Arizona would have had an AIDS quarantine bill," he says. "Bobby Raymond went to the funerals of AIDS patients even when their parents didn't show up. And that was a political hot potato! The image of Bobby Raymond as being a person who doesn't give a shit about the issues just rips my heart out."
He describes Raymond's sentencing, an occasion that was attended only by Harrison, Raymond's former secretary Angie Lopez and--amazingly--Trent Franks and Judith Connell, two Republicans who had opposed Raymond in fierce legislative races but who in a crisis had rushed to his side. Raymond's wife, Sheri, did not attend (they have since divorced), nor did any of his close friends. "Bobby says there are two times when you are truly alone--when you die and when you go to prison," Harrison says.
Without warning, Harrison's eyes suddenly become as red as a wound and tears begin streaming out of them. "I thought of how incredibly sad it was," he says. "Look who was there for him: the secretary, the Republicans and the faggot."
"Bobby Raymond was to my politics what somebody's accountant is to their accounting," Harrison says.
"The Democratic party looked like a bunch of worms runnin' from a blowtorch."
"I prefer to say that he is naive. That is the nicest way I know of saying he is a happy idiot."
Hirsh accuses the county prosecutor of orchestrating the "perjury" with which Harrison was later charged.
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SHOW ME HOW
The line of questioning seemed intended to entrap Mackey and Harrison into denying the telephone calls, of which the grand jury was already aware.
Harrison was only a pawn, but being used has cost him the shape of his former life.
In addition to being full of life, Harrison's testimony was pretty empty of specifics.
"Bobby says there are two times when you are truly alone--when you die and when you go to prison.