Election Complaint: Scott Smith Failed to Disclose Travel and Event Gifts

Smith ComplaintFriday afternoon, Mesa resident and city hall activist Gene Dufoe filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State arguing that former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith failed to disclose travel and event gifts, a requirement candidates must follow when seeking public office.

The complaint provides a detailed list of travel expense gifts that Smith did not claim on his personal financial disclosure form when he submitted the forms on May 21, 2014.

Exhibits in the complaint detail expense reports filed with the City of Mesa in the year leading up to his announcement for Governor. Those same gifts are also required to be disclosed with the Secretary of State when becoming a candidate.

Smith’s failure to disclose the gifts draws into question whether he may have any conflicts of interest issues related to seeking the office of governor.

Dufoe’s complaint states:

Whether Mr. Smith was justified in accepting these gifts is not the issue here; the only issue is that he failed to report them. Arizona has several important reasons to require candidates to disclose gifts. One reason is so that voters may assess whether a candidate is beholden to special interests. The disclosure may reveal the leanings of the candidate on policy issues. It also reduces the possibility of corruption, or the appearance of corruption. Here, the United States Conference of Mayors is a policy-driven organization, and voters have a right to know that they have flown Mr. Smith all around the globe, put him up in nice hotels, and fed him at nice restaurants.

With Wednesday’s controversy over the use of government resources during a campaign trip to Yuma now drawn into question, this latest complaint may reveal a pattern of shielding important financial information from the general public.

In 2011, several Arizona lawmakers were caught up in a controversy surrounding unreported gifts received to travel and attend sporting events. That investigation led to the conviction of the Fiesta Bowl CEO, John Junker. (Arizona Republic article)

Due to conflict of interest issues, the Secretary of State’s office will forward the complaint to the Attorney General’s Office for an investigation.

To read the complaint letter, click here.

Will Democrat Ron Barber Reimburse Taxpayers after Using His Office for Campaign Purposes?

Barber Should Use Campaign Funds to Repay Taxpayers Victimized By His Abuse of Mail Privilege
 
PHOENIX – Robert Graham, Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, demanded today that Democrat Ron Barber reimburse the federal government for the taxpayer money he spent on his reelection campaign.  Graham noted that Barber reportedly has more than $750,000 in campaign funds available – funds that should be used to repay the government for using federal funds for his personal campaign.
“Taxpayers deserve ethical representatives who will be good stewards of our nation’s government and take special care to use our taxpayer dollars wisely,” said Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham. “But because of people like Ron Barber, voters in southern Arizona and beyond are suffering the embarrassing consequences of his ethical lapses.”
 
Graham noted that Barber could take the initiative and reimburse the government for the taxpayer funds used to support his reelection efforts when Barber sent out a campaign flyer, but he still intends to ask the Speaker of the House John Boehner to have the U.S. House Committee on Ethics investigate whether Barber’s actions merit disciplinary action.
The Committee recently convened to investigate eight members of Congress — including Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Charlie Rangel of New York — who had been arrested by police in October after repeated warnings against obstructing others and “blocking passage” during a protest in Washington, DC.  Rangel had been investigated previously by the Committee and found guilty of 11 charges relating to his finances, which led Congress to vote to censure him and require him to pay restitution in 2010.  In October the Committee deemed their proceedings resolved after the Grijalva and Rangel paid a fine to have the protest charges dropped.
“Americans are just sick and tired of this kind of unethical behavior in Congress, and it’s hitting close to home now that a second Democrat from Arizona is having trouble with his ethical conduct,” Graham added.
The Committee on Ethics of the U. S. House of Representatives has published their rules prohibiting members from using official resources for campaign and political purposes here.

Press Release: Gibbons Funded by Out-of-Town Supporters

The political participants in Legislative District 18 have obviously done their homework. Back on June 30th when the campaign finance reports were turned in, we posted the reports for Kevin Gibbons and Russell Pearce. As we noted, Pearce was running under the Clean Elections system, while Gibbons was running traditional. One of the best indicators of where a candidate stands on issues is where the campaign is getting its money. Supporters of a specific agenda tend to give to a candidate who will push that agenda. It’s called special interests and political action committees (PAC’s) are the best example of this.

When we first looked at Gibbons reports we were amazed that so much money was coming in from out of the district. A large part of his contributions were coming from Yuma and specifically, individuals and groups who depend on migrant labor to farm their crops.

As I mentioned, someone actually took the time to analyze Gibbons’ reports and it just so happens to be the 1st Vice Chairman of Republicans in Legislative District 18. Today, they issued the following press release:

For Immediate Release: July 23, 2008
Contact: E. Paul Whetten, Paul.Whetten@gmail.com

Gibbons Funded by Out-of-Town Open Borders Supporters
District 18 1st Vice Chairman, E. Paul Whetten to Kevin Gibbons: “Give Back Money from Open Borders Advocates”

MESA – District 18 Senate Republican Candidate Kevin Gibbons claims that he has the answers for our immigration policy problems. As an immigration attorney Mr. Gibbons has a credible claim to expertise in immigration law, but one look at his list of donors shows where his loyalties in immigration policy come from.

While Gibbons says that he wants represent Mesa, only 20.6% of his donations come from people who live within the city. In fact, only 15.1% of his donations are from people in District 18. In contrast, 100% of Russell Pearce’s donors are from inside the district.

More to the point, 53 of Gibbons’ donors are out-of-town farmers from Yuma and Buckeye, with over 30% of his total donations coming from Yuma alone.  A large majority of these donations come from the farming community that is actively engaged in employing cheap labor which is against Arizona’s new employer sanctions laws. Since Mr. Gibbons would obviously better represent the views of his Yuma “constituents,” perhaps he should consider running for their senate seat.

Kevin Gibbons supports initiatives that will weaken the laws requiring the use of E-Verify. He also advocates for a guest worker program that will basically open the borders for his farm and fast food supporters who desire cheap labor. Kevin Gibbons’ policy positions are not the forward thinking policies supported by the citizens of District 18.  On the contrary, they are the failed “business-as-usual” policies that do nothing to solve our immigration problems and promote the defiance of our laws.

While Gibbons talks of “real reform” for illegal immigration, his supporters and backers tell a different story.  From former Democratic Party Chairmen to Open Border Supporters, his rhetoric does not match the real intentions of his patrons.

Russell Pearce has been a champion of the taxpayer and a nationally recognized leader on immigration issues. He has the conservative credentials and a solid track record of representing the people of District 18. Even a cursory examination of Mr. Gibbons’ list of out-of-town open border advocates and Democrat power brokers reveal who he would really represent.

If Mr. Gibbons sincerely wants to represent the citizens of District 18, I suggest that he return donations he’s received from supporters whose policies we have clearly rejected.

##

Hat tip to Mesa Issues for breaking the story first, which by the way, is the best blog covering local issues in Mesa!

LD18 Senate – By The Monies

The battle between Russell Pearce and Kevin Gibbons got us curious so we decided to pull the latest financial reports (accessible via the Secretary of State’s website) for both candidates.

Kevin Gibbons June 30th Report
Russell Pearce June 30th Report

This really is an unusual race just given the fact that the incumbent, Russell Pearce is running under the “Clean Elections” financial system and the challenger, Kevin Gibbons, is running under the traditional means of campaign finance. Usually, the challenger runs under “Clean Elections” because it is very difficult to raise money when taking on an incumbent. This is actually one of the positive unintended consequences which has benefitted newcomers to the political process because it has allowed them to bypass asking the establishment big-money donors for money when challenging the establishment’s incumbent candidates. However, in this race, it appears the roles have been switched as Gibbons, the challenger, has managed to win the support of big-money establishment donors while Pearce continues to cling to his grassroots supporters.

Based on who’s giving to Gibbons’ campaign, this race boils down to one issue – immigration. Notable donors to Gibbons’ campaign include Marion “Mac” MaGruder, Ross Farnsworth, Andrew Pacheco, Merwin Grant, Heather Sandstrom, Doug Pruitt, Steven Barclay, Scott Perkinson, Claudia Walters and seven political action committees. As this blog also pointed out, Gibbons’ campaign also received money from the former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party (Jim Pederson) and Yuma Democrat and State Representative, Lynne Pancrazi.

One will also notice that Gibbons has received plenty of money from donors who reside in Yuma – one of Arizona’s major farming hubs which relies on migrant labor.

Because Russell Pearce is running as a “Clean Elections” candidate he can only take $5 donations so his report shows only what he has received in seed money. Those donors include Fred Ash, David Childers, Thomas Jacobs and Janie Thom.

However, what is most surprising is the huge disparity of both campaigns when it comes to money. Kevin Gibbons has raised a whopping $66,220, spent only $3,494 leaving a cash-on hand balance of $62,725!

Pearce on the other hand entered the race with $24,381 at the beginning of the reporting period. He then raised $2,308 for the period, $24, 031 leaving him a cash-on-hand of $2,658 in the bank.

If money is an indicator of where a political race is headed, there could be trouble for the Pearce campaign, especially if the Gibbons campaign does not trigger a Clean Elections disbursement to the Pearce campaign. Timing will play an important factor in this race and with early voting scheduled to begin the first week of August, both campaigns will be looking for the “whites of their eyes” before pulling the political trigger.