So there were zero protesters outside the University Club in Phoenix Tuesday night for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's fundraiser, featuring Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, author of Sand Land's anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070.
Which surprised me. I mean, recalled, disgraced former state Senator Russell Pearce was supposed to be present, too, though he ended up being a no-show. Still, you'd think with a Mexican-bashin' lineup like that, the pro-immigrant crowd would represent.
Granted, I arrived late to the converted home on a residential street next to the Heard Museum, but folks told me they saw no placard-bearers earlier. There was almost no security that I could see.
Phoenix lefties be slackin'. Where's Randy Parraz when you need him?
I figured I'd be booted off the property tout de suite, but I wasn't. Maybe because I generally went with the flow. I wasn't looking to disrupt, just observe.
There were about 25 people there from my count. The general reception, which began at 6 p.m., was $100 to get in, according to the flier.
I know, that's only rich for a reporter's blood.
Nevertheless, it was quickly apparent that the crowd, if you can call it that, was a bit of an illusion. Most of those present were Horne staffers. Though Turf Paradise owner Jerry Simms and filthy rich lawyer Mark Goldman, both Horne donors heretofore, were present.
Subtract the hosts, Joe's bodyguards (two plainclothes deputies), the AG staffers and Horne and his wife Marty (Horne squeeze, ex-AG lawyer Carmen Chenal was nowhere in site), and there wouldn't be much left past Goldman and Simms.
At least, to be fair, by 6:40 p.m., when I got there.
I'm told lobbyists usually come early, drop their dough and leave.
One Horne-ite claimed the take for the night was "$40,000 to $50,000." If I'd been drinking horchata, it would've been shooting out my nose in disbelief.
On the other hand, Horne is still the AG, even if he is engulfed by scandal, and some Republicans are still betting on him, amazingly.
I said hello to Horne's outreach director Kathleen Winn, who denies all regarding ex-AG staffer and whistle-blower Sarah Beattie, including Beattie's charge in her sworn affidavit that Winn liked to brag that Horne would never get rid of her because she knows "where the bodies are buried."
She said she was not at all shocked to see me. Heh.
Nearby was Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, who later confided that another newshound who shall remain nameless had asked to come to the event, and Grisham told this person no.
Which goes to show ya: Don't ask for permission, just go. That way you always have the element of surprise. And if you get 86'd by security, there's your story.
To the credit of Grisham, she didn't ask me to leave. Neither did anyone else.
Most interesting to me was putting faces to some of the folks whose names I've read in FBI transcripts and in other public records, like Linnea Heap, the AG staffer who loaned her car to Carmen Chenal on the fateful day of Horne's vehicular hit and run.
Also present was Tom Chenal, ex-husband of Carmen, Tom Chenal is a lawyer in the civil division of the AG's office, and seems like a pleasant and easy-going gent, as you might expect that he'd have to be in his situation.
Vanessa Deatherage, another AG staffer, was manning the table on entry, or at least was when I spotted her.
I also met Adria Martinez, head of constituent services, the area where Beattie "worked."
Martinez has yet to be included in any AG scandals, past or present, that I know of. Rara avis, she is.
As I spoke with Martinez, next to us was what could've been some humongous refugee from the Bundy ranch.
Of course that was Steven Seagal, scourge of chickens and pal of Vladimir Putin. He was posing for pics with attendees.
He spoke earlier, according to Grisham's Tweets, telling folks, "We have no business in the Ukraine now."
Yep, about as much business as Seagal has riding around Maricopa County as a pseudo MCSO deputy.
I gravitated toward Arpaio, maleficent lodestone that he is, because I had a couple of questions on a story regarding the MCSO that I've been attempting to nail down.
Needless to say, he was not very forthcoming. He employs a very effective tactic of answering a question with a question, as if he's confused.
Given his age, you might be tempted to think he is confused. But it's only a way to deflect the query, which often never gets answered.
"Why don't you ask me some real stuff?" he said, dodging. "What are you doing here? Why me all the time?"
See what I mean?
The sheriff is also very adept at flattery, even with his enemies. And he has a few pat lines he always uses on me.
Like when he said to me, "Just one time before I die, could you write something nice about me?"
"Sure Joe," I replied. "Arrest Tom Horne, and I'll give you some sweet ink."
"Arrest the Attorney General? Why?" he asked.
"Because he's corrupt," I replied.
I know, the irony.
Grisham approached. I snapped a pic of him and Grisham, telling Joe he should replace MCSO flack Lisa Allen with Grisham because Grisham is younger and nicer.
Just kidding, Lisa. (Um, no, really, Joe.)
Anyway, around then Kobach walked by, and Joe introduced us, telling him I was a "famous reporter" called "the Bird."
Flattery, again. Arpaio knows all the tricks of the trade.
I told Kobach the nickname was because I'm always giving Arpaio the bird in print. Arpaio shook his finger at me. Kobach laughed, then I asked him if he supported Tom Horne.
He said yes, of course, and I asked why. He told me it's because they were working together on suing the federal government regarding their respective states' voter ID (read "voter suppression") measures.
I asked him if it would matter to him if Horne was personally corrupt.
"Personally corrupt?" asked Kobach.
"You know, say, if he hired his mistress to a state job that paid $108K per year," I told him.
"Well, I'd need to know more," he replied.
"I can send you some links," I told him.
"I'm sure you can," he laughed.
I wondered, since he's considered the "dark lord of the anti-immigration movement," in the words of Democratic Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, if there was anyone on the other side of the immigration issue with whom he could have a civil discussion.
"Oh, yeah, I have civil discussions with people all the time on the subject of immigration," he assured me. He was vague on specifics.
I asked him what he thought of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's comment, calling illegal immigration to the United States an "act of love."
He said he wasn't sure if it was a well-planned comment or an ill-advised comment.
"By that logic, if you're selling drugs to provide for your kids, that's an act of love," he said.
Er, not really. Though it may depend on the drug. There's a whole industry in Colorado that would take offense at Kobach's statement.
I asked him who he liked in the Republican field for president in 2016. He said he didn't know whom he was going to endorse or support, but he mentioned U.S. Senator from Texas Ted Cruz as someone whose positions he kinda liked.
By this point, Horne had exited stage right. I did run into him earlier as he was eating something, with some white foodstuff smeared all over his mouth. He was jittery, and dived into what little crowd there was. I figured I could catch him as the crowd wound down.
Eh, it's not like I won't have more opportunities in the near future to grill him as I previously have.
Much of the rest of the evening was left chatting with Teresa Ottensen Binder, a Pinal County Horne-supporter, and with several ladies from the Horne camp, who hung out.
Gossip, mostly. Suffice it to say that they are not big fans of Sarah Beattie, and have any number of conspiracy theories that involve her being a plant for either Horne's GOP primary opponent Mark Brnovich or the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, a Republican group which opposes Horne's corruption.
Naturally, they have no evidence to back up their theories, and I'm all about the evidence.
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Which Beattie, say what her critics may, has in plentiful supply.
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