Is it time for him to ‘Buz’ off?

The mounting controversies surrounding Buz Mills are making it increasingly likely that he will not be able to continue his campaign for Governor much longer.  The Arizona Capitol Times and other news outlets are reporting that he is rapidly losing momentum in the contest:

Revelations that Mills had defrauded business partner in Florida and conflicting messages from his campaign that muddied his position on Arizona’s employer sanctions law have set the stage for attacks against him in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Republican consultant Constantin Querard said Mills’ campaign has been damaged, and the negative image will get worse if he doesn’t address the issue more thoroughly.

“It does have the potential to cost him the race,” Querard said.  Most damaging, perhaps, was the news on April 26 that a Florida judge ruled in 2001 that Mills had defrauded a business partner during the sale of his telecommunications company.

According to court documents, Mills bilked business partner John Mortellite out of several million dollars by arranging the sale of OPM-USA, Inc. without telling Mortellite and then buying out Mortellite’s 10-percent share of the company for much less than it was worth. Mills and his wife, Sonja, owned 90 percent of the communications company.
The overwhelming evidence that he defrauded a former business partner out of millions of dollars in Florida is being viewed by many observers as something that could very will be an insurmountable obstacle for Buz Mills:

Pollster Bruce Merrill, an Arizona State University professor who runs the Cronkite/Eight Poll, said the fraud ruling has the potential to damage Mills’ campaign.

“In a primary race, it certainly could hurt,” Merrill said. “I think the key thing would be whether one of his opponents would use it as the basis for a commercial or something like that.”

Mortellite was a neighbor of the Millses in 1995 when the three of them formed OPM, which was created to build cellular towers and sell them to communications companies. Mortellite bought a 10 percent share of the company for $100,000.

Mills’ dispute with Mortellite began in 1997 after Mills began talks with American Tower L.P. to sell OPM-USA, which he ultimately sold for $105 million. But he bought out Mortellite for just $1.5 million without telling him about American Tower’s offer or disclosing OPM’s full value, according to court documents. Mills even told Mortellite to extend a vacation for several weeks to keep him from finding out about the negotiations with American Tower.

When Mortellite returned from vacation, Mills fired him. Later, at an August 1997 board meeting, Mortellite agreed to leave the company and take the buyout based on an incorrect assumption about the company’s value, according to court documents. Mills didn’t tell Mortellite about American Tower’s offer, even when Mortellite’s attorney asked at the board meeting whether OPM was involved in any pending transactions.
How can Buz possibly continue his race for Governor now that this has come to light?  More importantly, what else don’t we know about this man and his background?  Can conservatives really vote for him in good conscience and expect him to uphold their values?  Is it time for him to ‘Buz’ off?


  1. Seedy Three says

    As Republicans, we’re supposed to be the party of law and order. This guy would get run over by Terry Goddard in November. He hurts the GOP’s chances big time by staying in now.

  2. “It does have the potential to cost him the race…”

    There’s an understatement! Buzz Mill’s first hill to climb was being new and unknown to the Arizona public. Coming out of the blue, he needed a squeaky clean record to pull off a grab for governor. But alas, Mark Foley’s foibles were merely pesky compared to the scheming shyster shenanigans of Buzz Mills.

    Rather than wondering how this might “cost him the race,’ the more meaningful questions about Buzz Mills are: who prompted him to run in the first place; was he ever politically conservative; are there more like him where he came from; who are they and in what States are they posing as conservatives. Contrary to what the AZ Capital Times and several other liberal blogs suggest, Mills deserved all the scrutiny he got. There’s no gall like inferring that calling a crook out on the carpet is akin to attacking him. Self-exiled from Florida with a court ruling of fraud against him, and somehow the logical next move is Governor of Arizona? Give us a break, he’s no victim, and hearing him painted that way is a good indication that he’s a friend of the far left.

    Thank God the truth is out.

  3. Double Decaf Latte says

    Constantin Querard questioning someone’s political ethics isn’t exactly like Mother Theresa questioning a pregnant bride wearing white to her wedding.

    Google CQ and you’ll see a political consultant with dirt under his finger nails.

  4. AZDryheat says

    It’s good to see Arizona’s worst pollster, AKA Bruce Merrill, being quoted again. Court docs showing he defrauded his partner out of millions could hurt his campaign? You think?

    Now we anxiously await his poll that will show “Democrats closing the gap” come October.

  5. Antifederalist says

    Look, I’ve been open that I’m a Dean Martin supporter. Be that as it may, no matter how much I may want Buz to drop out of the race, he hasn’t so far…and how long has this story been out there? A week or more? The man is still running commercials on TV. We’ve also heard plenty of stories that the man is arrogant. We also know he has lots of highly paid campaign staff. Do you honestly think this story is going to convince the arrogant and rich Mills to drop out of the race? Think his campaign staff will urge him to throw in the towel? We haven’t even seen a good poll come out post-fraud story.

    If Rasmussen comes out with a poll showing Mills dropping from about 19% support to 0% support, then, he MIGHT consider dropping out. I still assert Mills is arrogant enough to believe he’s teflon, that his money and air time will erase the voters’ memories of his fraudulent past from their minds, and to stoke his own ego, Mills will listen to his campaign staff to stay in the race. They need paychecks, right?

    I’m glad to see this story percolating back up to the top because I want to see Buz lose to Dean, but to think that Buz will drop out, no matter how much I may want that to happen, is just laughable. It’s not in Buz’s personality.

  6. Pretty Peeved says

    Dang, if Buz could turn my $100k into $1.5 million I’d not be complaining.

    Love how SA categorised this story under “conspiracy theories.”

  7. VoiceInTheWild says

    Buz would out talk and out distance Terry G.

    Buz turns water into gold and was rags to riches. He knows how to work hard. People who work hard usually have some disagreeable type along the way. It is a bad of courage.

    Dean needs to take personal time, get a real job for a few years and come back to politics later.

    Brewer – if Prop 100 fails – and it may – she will be hard pressed in the primary to win.

    John Munger – nice man, not enough traction. He has been unable to attract large dollars. Instead of assinating Clean Elections, he should have embraced it and used it to move his campaign forward.

    At the end of the day, Arizona is ready for a fresh start. We have had what, three success female guv’s? Time to let a guy back in the seat.

  8. Walter W says

    Buz and Goddard. The perp against the Attorney General? Martin hasn’t layed a glove on Mills over the court’s finding of fraud against Mills. The general election would not be quite so user friendly.

    Important to rememeber. Mills didn’t simply “settle the case.” The court’s finding of fact was Mills committed fraud. Rather than wait for the court’s sanction amount Mills “settled.”

    The finding of the court and of Arizona voters…Mills is a fraud. “I’m not a politician”…”I’m a crooked business man.” Arizona voters are in no mood to elect a man found in court to be a fraud.

  9. Carlist says

    I always wonder about out of state “saviors” who drop from the sky every two years or so to run for high public office!

    Jim Ogsbury began the latest trend two years ago and now Jim Ward emigrates from California and offers us his services for the same position that GOP voters denied the D.C. lobbyist!

    Not to be outdone, Chris Salvino who shared Buz Mills type trouble in Indiana and is no longer practicing medicine also advertises himself for the Fifth District Congressional nomination.

    Are these guys “saving” us or themselves?

  10. Who are you people? Well, I think I know – Democrats and Campaign Managers for other gubernatorial candidates! Dollars to donuts, not a single one of you has run a business employing over 10 people for more than a year! My guess is no where close to that level of entrepreneurial accomplishment.

    Now, that’s not a bad thing, it just doesn’t set you up to comment from experience. So let me give it to you again:

    1. The judgement in 2001 was ultimately vacated (that means the lower court was reversed – judgment void) in 2003.
    2. In my experience, when the investment of the parties is not on par (in this case, 10:1 Buz over his partner), the guy with the most to lose, generally fights like hell to make something happen. And, generally, when that happens the other guy sits back and says “I’m glad I signed up with him (or her)”. That can be pretty disgusting from the heavy investor’s perspective.
    3. I’m willing to bet that Buz’s partner wasn’t very involved in the business (no other businessman worth his salt would accept extended vacations – this wasn’t a boss/employee relationship, these were two investment partners).
    4. Buz’s partner got a 1,400% return on his investment in 21 short months… And other than invest, probably did very little to deserve it.
    5. Why didn’t Buz’s partner know the value of the business, because he wasn’t ever there – no involvement.
    6. These things aren’t easy – and sometimes they go to court. When they do, everything is reduced to legal summaries. Using legal documents to understand the complete context of the situation, is like using a skeleton to determine what someone looked like. It’s very difficult to see beyond the black and white. You have to read between the lines, in order to see the truth.

    The truth is, Buz Mills is the kind of leader that won’t put up with people who are hanging out making passive income off of our tax dollars. He is going to find them and remove them – freeing our tax dollars to do things like improve the education of our children.

    He doesn’t owe anybody anything – he is self-financed. There is nobody to pay back. That means he is free to make tough decisions and get the job done. That is what has the professional politicians nervous.

    So – for those of you that read this stuff as you make decisions about our future Arizona leadership – let what I’ve said soak in a little bit.

    Don’t be disillusioned about Buz Mills by those who built their careers on slander and libel. They all have their warts! Can you imagine elections in 20 years – with Facebook postings and cameras on every phone? These are real people folks – let’s move on to getting our economy turned around, returning to small government, restoring power to the States, and protecting liberty!

  11. AZDryheat says

    Pretty weak John. Again, the judgement was vacated because Buz had to settle out of court. Once his partner got a settlement, he dropped the case. To even imply otherwise, that a judge in 2003 somehow overturned the finding that he defrauded his partner out of millions, is disingenuous at best.

    Second, your argument that the guy had it coming because he “probably” deserved it is not helping Buz’s cause. If you’re an honest businessman and you want to buy out your partner’s 10%, you give him 10%. Anyone that has been in business knows a contract is a contract.

    Buz Mills is a scandal waiting to happen. We can do a lot better

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