An Open Letter Responding to Accusations of Fraud in the LD16 Leadership Election

From Deborrah Miller, Assistant Secretary of the Arizona Republican Party

“There is an old saying that if you say a lie long enough and often enough people will start to believe it is true.”

For the past few days I’ve seen attacks on my character and allegations made and assumed that people would know they were bogus. Unfortunately, I’m finding that some folks will lie and malign without regard to facts or due process if it means holding on to a little power, and in a large state and county, people aren’t sure what the facts were. You have only read one side of the story, and it is factually incorrect and offensively defamatory.

For new PCs who may not know me, I am a grassroots conservative who’s been involved in the party for two decades. I’ve given my life to this party. You have elected me as your assistant secretary of the state party twice unopposed. I served under Tom Morrissey, was actively involved in the party under Randy Pullen, and have served the past few years under Chairman Graham. I have been there counting petitions on controversial issues like the McCain censure. At all times I’ve acted with integrity.

Some other names you may not know — Sharon Giese is our elected National Committeewoman and has served in that capacity with Randy Pullen, Tom Morrissey, and Chairman Graham. She has also served as the RNC’s elected Parliamentarian. Chad Heywood is the Executive Director of the Arizona Republican party. George Khalaf is the Political Director of the Arizona Republican party.

Jerry Clingman, the chairman of LD 16, did not attend his own meeting to stand for re-election. Jerry was in Wisconsin on a hunting vacation, and he’s still there now! That he speaks as if he were a witness to events at the election is a joke. Here are the facts of what happened at the LD 16 meeting, as will be attested by myself, Sharon Giese, Chad Heywood, George Khalaf, and MANY LD 16 PCs who were eye witnesses to the entire process.

Jerry Clingman asked 1st Vice Chairman Mara Benson, a candidate for re-election, to chair the meeting in his absence. Mara asked me for assistance because she knows my background and integrity with the elections process.

Jerry had failed in his duty to appoint a Credentials committee before he left on vacation. Seemingly at the last minute, he asked his live-in partner, Kay Reardon, a candidate for Corresponding Secretary, to manage credentials. It soon became clear to Mara and me, and many other members present, that Kay was in no way prepared for this duty.

1.      Kay had asked volunteers who were not Precinct Committeemen to help with credentials. This is against LD 16 by-laws. I informed Kay that this could not be allowed.
2.      Kay had no plan to validate proxies on signing in or to determine the right amount of ballots for each PC based on proxies carried.
3.      Kay did not bring a ballot box. It makes you wonder if she even realized we were having an election.

Kay’s lack of basic preparation put Mara in a bind as the presiding officer. In order to ensure a smooth and fair election, she asked me to observe and help with the process. Chad Heywood and George Khalaf from the state party were also there to observe. Maricopa County had sent no representation.

Credentials and Proxies

Neither Chad nor George checked anyone in at credentials. Chad simply gave his perspective when asked about disputes.

Jerry Clingman claims that his proxy was rejected. It was not. I questioned Jerry’s proxy initially because it was a fax, not an original. I consulted with Chad Heywood and Sharon Giese; on their recommendation, I approved the proxy and ensure that his assignee, Kay Reardon, received a ballot for him. Apparently AJ LaFaro’s main witness and information source doesn’t even know whether or not he cast a vote at the meeting! (Hint, Jerry: You did.)

Nobody disputed the credential process. There was a motion from the floor to accept the credentials report, and it was passed without questions. Nobody was turned away. Credentials were approved by the body at the meeting and NOT ONE PERSON AT THE MEETING QUESTIONED IT. Not even Kay Reardon.

Kay sought to invalidate two proxy forms because they did not provide the witnesses’ phone numbers. Her argument was that if you don’t have a witnesses number you can’t verify them so they should be thrown out. Take a look at the official proxy forms in the MCRC and AZGOP bylaws, and you’ll see that there isn’t even a place on the forms for a witness phone number.

I concluded and communicated that a proxy form is valid if it includes the correct information and signatures. You can’t throw out a proxy because a witness who is not a voter in this election doesn’t have a phone number. Not even voter registration requires a phone number! Just as the affidavit for becoming a PC asks for email and phone number, but does not require it. The legal counsel to the state Republican party who has served in 3 different chairmen’s administrations agrees with me on this. Mara as the presiding officer accepted the proxies.

Two proxies were thrown out because they did not include the name of the person who was carrying the proxy. Senator Dave Farnsworth was carrying them. Dave understood it was an effort to play by the rules and respected the judgment whole-heartedly. He is a good man.

AT ALL TIMES KAY WAS PART OF THE PROCESS and JERRY CLINGMAN THE ACCUSER WAS NOT IN ATTENDANCE! Michelle Ives who was in attendance sat at the proxy table and viewed what was done. I understand that there can be differences of interpretation, but when that is the case, the chair of the meeting makes the final judgment and the chair of the meeting was Mara Benson.

Ballot Box

Brian Orner grabbed an open crate at the school to be used for a ballot box because Kay did not bring one. Chad Heywood asked Spencer Pearce, a candidate for 2nd Vice Chair and a nephew of Russell Pearce, to observe the box as ballots were cast because he knew that Spencer was a friend of Kay and Jerry and Spencer’s integrity was without question. George Khalaf from the state party also viewed the ballot box to make sure it was observed at all times.

Ballot Counting

Chad Heywood invited Representative Kelly Townsend to observe the vote counting as an act of transparency. Kelly had endorsed and spoken for Jerry Clingman who was not there for his own meeting. I believe that Chad invited her to observe so that Jerry’s supporters would feel confident in the fairness of the process. In the room counting votes were Spencer Pearce, Chad Heywood, myself, Michelle Ives, and another PC whom Jerry and Kay had asked to help with the process.

The state committeeman nomination process began, and voting began for the state committee. Mara the chair then read the results of the officer election.

The results were:

Of the 108 eligible PC’s, 33 attended by proxy and 52 were present for a total of 85 voters. 79% turnout!

Trevor Hansen 52 votes
Jerry Clingman 33 votes

1st Vice Chair
Brian Orner 31 votes
Mara Benson 54 votes

2nd Vice Chair
Spencer Pearce unopposed

Thomas Jones 48 votes
Cindy 37 votes

Recording Secretary
Deborrah Miller 59 votes
Geneva 26 votes

Corresponding Secretary
Kay Reardon

Even with the disputed two proxy forms the results were very clear and nobody was in the margin of error.

Chairman AJ Lafaro is also out of town on vacation and DID NOT ATTEND THE MEETING NOR HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE PRESENT. He unilaterally invalidated our election based on an email of accusations made by Jerry Clingman who was ALSO NOT IN ATTENDANCE. AJ Lafaro
·        has not reviewed our proxy forms.
·        has not asked for the vote count.
·        didn’t have the decency to call me, Chad, Mara, or any of the PC’s to weigh the evidence.

AJ has appointed himself judge, jury, and prosecutor in this matter and still has not given a clear reason of evidence for why he is trying to invalidate and discredit an election that had 79% PC turnout without even consulting or notifying his board and the executive guidance committee. I’m not sure what his motivations are, but I’m more than disappointed — I’m disgusted that he would spread accusations without even making the smallest effort to get more than one side of the story.

Do Chairman LaFaro and Jerry Clingman really think that Sharon Giese, the national parliamentarian, is lying and part of a rigged Legislative District election? That she would approve invalid proxies for two votes in a landslide election?

As a lifelong conservative I would appreciate a public apology from Jerry Clingman and AJ LaFaro for slandering me and the work I did to serve the party at this meeting. I also would like the briefs to apologize for spreading accusations as fact.


Deborrah Miller, Assistant Secretary of the Arizona Republican Party
PC LD 16 Maricopa County

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