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THE UNSOPHISTICATESUE LAYBE'S RICHES-TO-RAGS SAGA

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Says Representative Goudinoff, "She knew how to organize, and you have to wonder how [Stedino's] money played into that. She stood out at the legislature as a survivor."

THERE IS NO question that Laybe took a lot of money from Stedino, that she thumbed through it expertly in living color, that she kept going back for more. She explains away her manual dexterity by pointing out that she spent last summer training cashiers. "At Sizzler, I was responsible for thousands of dollars' worth of deposits on a daily basis, as well as at the airport." But there was never any excellent explanation for her willingness to take 100 times more in campaign contributions--and perhaps bribes--than she was entitled to. Even attorney Klahr concedes that.

"Her goal was clear," he says. "She wanted to take all the money that she legally could to help her. She was trying to find ways to avoid but not evade the laws of campaign finance. She may have crossed the line."

He is adamant, though, that the case against Laybe has never been about bribery, and that her plea bargain, in which she concedes a felony count each of bribery and attempted bribery, is unfair. "She was tired, she wanted it to be over, and the County Attorney's Office said this was the price of peace," he says.

He says that Laybe didn't commit bribery, according to Arizona statute, because for money received to qualify as a bribe a legislator's vote must be "influenced." Laybe says she was in favor of legalized gambling in Arizona long before she met Joseph Stedino. She not only trained as a blackjack dealer at Tommy's during the age of Arizona's simulated gambling casinos, but also knew firsthand about the gambling dollars being funneled out of state.

"When I was out at the airport, I would watch the junkets leaving for Las Vegas every Friday, and they were in a partying mood, they were spending money," she says. "Then I would see them again on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and say, `How did you do?' And they'd say, `We left all our money up in Vegas.'

"I think that gambling is great for the state."
While she explains all this, she is thumbing through police transcripts of the "sting" that are so marked up they are hard to read in places. She has been listening to the tapes and comparing them to the transcripts, and she contends that she can translate her soft voice through the background noise better than the police were able to. She says that the transcripts misquote her in ways that make it appear that Stedino's money changed her mind about gambling, when it isn't true. She points to a sentence that has her telling Stedino, in relationship to his proposed bill to legalize gambling, "I won't go out and sponsor the bill." Later in the transcripts, she did agree to sponsor it. As the record stands, it appears that she changed her mind for money. What she really said on that tape, according to Laybe, is, "I won't go out and stump for it," meaning that she wouldn't campaign for the bill. But she says that she agreed to sign on from the beginning.

There are other examples, but she will not share them all. On the day before she has decided to resign, they are important to her as a way to clear her name, and she does at least want the reporter to see all the markings.

"I'm a person of faith, I get through," she says of her ability to withstand. "I get more angry than anything else, at whoever did this. They have killed any legitimate debate about gambling in Arizona. And they have influenced the elections."

She does not mention that one of the elections that was influenced by Stedino's money was her own. She won in District 25 last fall by about 800 votes.

"I could not afford to fight anymore," Laybe says.

"She was the most inarticulate, unpoised, poorly groomed person. And that hair!"

Laybe milked the voting influence of the gay constituency and became "the darling of the gay club circuit."

Laybe says that the transcripts misquote her in ways that make it appear that Stedino's money changed her mind about gambling.

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Deborah Laake