Michael Monti Brings Out Mark Mitchell's 1993 "Arrest"; Mitchell Says Monti's "Really Hitting the Bottom of the Barrel on This One"

Back in 1993, Mark Mitchell -- who's running for mayor of Tempe -- was involved in an incident with police at a Mill Avenue bar.

Mitchell's opponent in the mayoral race, Michael Monti, is now making it a campaign issue (in 2012), claiming Mitchell's "distort[ing] the truth" about what happened.

It boils down to the difference between being "arrested" and "detained," and we have the police report to tell the story.

On November 4, 1993, Mitchell was in the Mill Avenue joint formerly known as the Balboa Cafe, where police were called to deal with a fight.

There were about 200 people inside the bar, a band was playing on stage, and police decided to take the two fighting men outside to investigate the incident, before a man later identified as Mitchell pulled on the jacket of one of the officers, according to the report.

The report says Mitchell pulled the officer back about two steps, and the officer pushed Mitchell back while Mitchell explained that he wanted to talk to the officer.

Mitchell tried it again, tugging on the sleeve of the officer's jacket, as the officer pushed him back again, and Mitchell explained that he wanted to talk to him.

And one more time, the 24-year-old Mitchell pulled the sleeve of the jacket.

"I advised Mitchell he was under arrest for delaying [and] obstructing a police officer during a police investigation," the officer's report states.

Mitchell was cuffed, and taken to the Tempe jail, where Mitchell voluntarily answered the cop's questions.

"[Mitchell] told me when he observed [the officers] make contact with [the men who were fighting], he thought he could 'make things better' by talking to me,'" the officer wrote in his report. "He stated he didn't want his friends to be arrested so he thought he could 'calm them down.'"

Mitchell apologized to the officer, according to the report -- which states that the case was "cleared by arrest." The ensuing complaint charges that Mitchell violated "municipal code."

The reason Monti brings this up, his campaign says, is in Mitchell's answer to a "candidate questionnaire" from the Arizona Republic published in February.

It reads:

Have you ever been charged with a crime or been part of a matter in civil court? If so, what was the outcome? At age 23, upon my graduation from ASU, I was detained during a nightclub altercation in Tempe. I completed an adult diversion program and no charges were filed.

"That's not exactly how it happened," the Monti campaign says. "Mark Mitchell was arrested and booked into jail accused of 'Delaying and Obstructing a Police Investigation.' There is a big difference between being detained and being arrested."

Yes, Mitchell's father was the mayor of Tempe at the time, which leads the Monti campaign to claim Mitchell was making "attempts at using his influence" with police.

The only reference to Harry Mitchell in the police report is under the "nearest relative name" field, which happens to be the appropriate place for Mark Mitchell to put his father's name. The word "mayor" never shows up in the report.

And out of all the things Monti and his campaign have said thus far about the incident, Mitchell agrees with precisely none of it.

"I fully disclosed this 12 years ago when I first ran for Council and I have disclosed it every election since," Mitchell says through a campaign spokeswoman. "I was detained and completed an adult diversion program and no charges were filed. This is just more lies, negative campaigning and character assassination from Michael Monti. Look at the question, it asks if you were ever charged with a crime. Even though I wasn't, I disclosed. Monti's really hitting the bottom of the barrel on this one."

Monti's campaign insists it's not about Mitchell's actions as a young man on Mill Avenue (where, we'll note, many of the mistakes in Tempe are made), but that it's about Mitchell's actions as an adult -- in how he answered that questionnaire.

It sure is a convenient thing to catch him on, though, huh?