Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Pummeled in Attack Ad by Citizens United for Progress

Brilliant new anti-Pearce ad from CUP

Citizens United for Progress, the group responsible for sending out fliers targeting state Senate President Russell Pearce in the Legislative District 18 recall election, will begin running the above anti-Pearce attack ad on local TV either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

The info in the ad is solid, even if the source of the ad is suspect. On Thursday, the Arizona Secretary of State's Office announced an audit of CUP and two other so-called "Citizens United" groups.

The SOS argues that the group should register and follow reporting requirements dictated by Arizona law.

"Any entity whose primary purpose is to influence elections," said Bennett via press release, "they must register as a political committee, disclose their contributors and list their expenditures."

CUP, through its statutory agent, Phoenix attorney Steven Hirsch, argues that because of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, it doesn't have to do jack. 

In Citizens, the high court forbade the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions. It did not invalidate requirements on reporting those expenditures. But Hirsch takes another view.

"It is...correct that Citizens United for Progress has not registered or filed expenditure notifications with the Secretary of State," Hirsch wrote to state elections director Amy Chan on October 21. "We respectfully disagree with your inferred conclusion that this non-profit entity is required to do so."

CUP's "primary purpose" seems to be that of influencing the outcome of the LD18 recall race. Formed as a non-profit corporation in August, it has as its "director " one Justin Tash, an undergrad at Arizona State University. The mailing address given is a UPS mail box on ASU's Tempe campus.

Tash is the son of William Tash, owner of Cactus Investigation, a private detective agency, of which William's son Justin is a part owner.

Though it's a little difficult to swallow that an ASU student all on his lonesome could form a corporation and raise enough money to send out thousands of fliers and produce a slick TV ad, I guess it's possible that Tash is a young Barry Goldwater in the making. 

Still, one wonders if Tash was recruited to be the "director" by the moneymen (or women) behind the enterprise. A lot of lawyers around town use Cactus Investigation, you see.

The group's spokesman, Republican political consultant Chase Barrett, denies that Tash was recruited. According to Barrett, the group has "a variety of donors," and its main purpose is "educating the electorate." 

Sources have indicated to me that GOP consultant Kyle Moyer has had a hand in the creation of CUP. So far, Moyer has not returned my calls asking for comment. Barrett, however, said that Moyer was not involved in CUP

Also, Barrett promised that CUP would not be disappearing after November 8, and that it had "other issues" that it would be advocating for or against.

Barrett was briefly the spokesperson for Pearce-foe Jerry Lewis after Lewis announced his candidacy for state Senate. In 2008, he worked for Republican Kevin Gibbons in the LD18 GOP primary, where Gibbons challenged Pearce.

No doubt the wingnut blogs will attempt to make much of these associations. However, the pool of Republican political consultants in this town is highly incestuous, to say the least. They all know each other, and at one time or another, seem to have worked either with or for each other.

Take Moyer, for instance. Moyer apparently still owns shares in Chad Willems' Summit Consulting, which is managing Pearce's re-election campaign. This, at least, is what Summit's most recent filing with the Arizona Corporation Commission indicates.

Yet, Moyer is a local player in his own right with Kyle Moyer and Company, which appears to be  involved with a different Citizens United group, the pro-Wes Gullett "organization" Arizona Citizens United.

ACU also boasts a UPS box as its headquarters, and once again, attorney Steven Hirsch is the non-profit's statutory agent. 

ACU's director is Rachel Naylor, a young employee of Moyer's. I've contacted both Naylor and Moyer in a variety of ways, asking for them to confirm that she is the same Naylor listed as director. So far, no reply.

Though, politically, I like both the CUP mailers and the TV ad, I wish that the people behind CUP had enough stones to do things by the book and not hide behind these various intrigues and this lame the-Citizens-United-decision-absolves-us-from-all-wrongdoing line.

Jerry Lewis has not been deceptive in his campaign. Nor has the anti-Pearce, pro-recall group Citizens for a Better Arizona. Better if all the deception's in Pearce's lap as we head into November 8.

So much sweeter then will be the win.