Former Gov. Fife Symington Hosted Fundraiser for Congressional Candidate Ruben Gallego

It's not a good look for Ruben Gallego, a Democratic candidate for Arizona's 7th Congressional District rubbing elbows with a former Republican governor -- and a disgraced one at that.

Former Governor Fife Symington hosted a fundraiser on Thursday night for Gallego at a swanky Italian bistro in Scottsdale. On his way into Franco's Italian Caffe, Symington, who has an anti-immigrant track record, posed for photos.

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"Ruben completely disagrees with what Symington has said in the past about immigrants. But Symington at least opposed SB 1070 -- unlike Chuck Coughlin, who was one of the architects of that law and has donated to Mary Rose Wilcox's campaign. Wilcox trying to play guilt by association is pretty laughable on just about any subject," says Andy Barr, a spokesman for Gallego's campaign.

Coughlin, president of HighGround Inc., donated $500 to Wilcox's congressional campaign on June 30, according to federal election records.

And, ironically, Coughlin managed Symington's 1994 re-election campaign.

"Mary Rose is supported by many Arizonans of all parties. She has not taken money from convicted felons like Fife Symington who complained to Congress about an 'immigrant invasion,'" says Sam Castañeda Holdren, a spokesman for Wilcox's campaign.

The Symington fundraiser, reportedly $100 a head, netted about 18 people -- at least according to a photo of the restaurant's guest book provided to New Times.

Gallego has had to defend himself against the image that Mary Rose Wilcox, one of his opponents in the race, has painted of him. She's hammered him for being a former member of the National Rifle Association and voting to support gun measures while he was a state lawmaker.

During a televised debate, she said that Gallego "might as well be a Republican."

She points out that Gallego received a B+ approval rating from the NRA, which doesn't resonate well in the predominately Latino and heavily Democratic district he's seeking to represent.

And this fundraiser, while it may have raised money for Gallego, it's serving as somewhat of a political gift for the Wilcox campaign in the final days of the campaign.

Politics indeed makes for strange bedfellows.

In a New York Times article published in 1994, Symington is quoted as telling a Senate Appropriations Committee that his state was facing an "immigrant invasion."

He was in the company of other governors at that time who said the influx of immigrants was a "living nightmare" and compared them to natural disasters.

In 1997, Symington was forced to resign after being found guilty of bank and wire fraud charges. Those charges were later overturned.

Symington also refused to restore the state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

The Harvard Crimson reported in 2010:

Arizona had previously observed the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday but had rescinded the holiday in 1986 under Governor Evan Mecham. Then-Governor J. Fife Symington III, when he came into office in 1991, refused to bring the holiday back to the state despite passionate appeals from a small, but determined, group of activists within the state. Initially, Senator John S. McCain supported and defended Symington in his refusal, but as the political winds changed due to boycotts and public outcry so did McCain, especially once it became clear that Arizona stood to lose millions of dollars on the issue.

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