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AZ judge rules Liddy didn’t defame Querard

A Superior Court judge ruled syndicated radio talk show host and former Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman Tom Liddy did not commit defamation in a 2004 e-mail that offended a well-known political consultant and pro-life activist.
Mr. Liddy was pleased with his victory, calling the experience a “fun 48 hours,” but he also said it is possible that Mr. Querard might be investigated for his activities preceding the 2004 Republican primary elections.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Constantin Querard was getting fitted for pink pajamas come Christmas time,” he said in reference to clothing issued to inmates in Maricopa County Jail. “But then again, nothing surprises me.”
During testimony, Mr. Liddy, a campaign finance lawyer, defended himself by describing a “scheme” of Constantin Querard to violate campaign finance laws by using his salary from a non-profit group to help his clients win races in the 2004 legislative elections.
Mr. Querard, a self-described “message vendor” and executive director of the pro-life group Arizona Family Project (AFP), had filed the suit against Mr. Liddy for damages stemming from a July 16, 2004, e-mail from the GOP official that Mr. Querard said unfairly accused him of money laundering.
Querard denies Liddy charges
On the stand he denied Mr. Liddy’s charge that his AFP salary helped pay for and send early ballot request forms to GOP voters that were designed to look as if they were from the Republican Party.
Returned requests were held by Mr. Querard to identify early voters for the 2004 Republican primary election who could be targeted solely by publicly funded candidates employing Mr. Querard, said Mr. Liddy.
The consultant described the process as legal, citing similar pieces done by Sens. Carolyn Allen, R-8, Jim Waring, R-7, and Michele Reagan, R-8.
Mr. Querard said that he was not aware of any instances of voters having been disenfranchised by his actions and there has never been a legal ruling that deemed the early ballot request forms illegal.
David Abney, Mr. Querard’s attorney, said that Mr. Liddy’s accusations were a “wild theory” and that all the “extraneous stuff” presented about Mr. Querard proved nothing and were irrelevant to the defamation charge.
“All he did was get paid and put it in his bank account,” he said of Mr. Querard’s actions.
Mr. Liddy’s attorney Tom Ryan, presented banking records and extracted testimony from Mr. Querard that revealed the AFP was funded primarily by contributions from several wealthy donors. AFP also received money from House Speaker Jim Weiers; R-10; Reps. John Allen, R-11, Colette Rosati, R-8, Doug Quelland, R-10, Sen. Jack Harper, R-4; and former District 7 Rep. David Burnell Smith.
After the trial, Mr. Smith, a client of Mr. Querard, told Arizona Capitol Times that he had donated to the AFP with his own personal money and stated that Mr. Querard never asked for donations to the non-profit to circumvent campaign funding laws.
Testimony and evidence presented during the trial from Mr. Liddy, Mr. Querard and his one-time client Anton Orlich, who ran unsuccessfully for a District 20 House seat, show that within a week of Mr. Liddy learning about the early ballot plan, an almost non-existent relationship between Mr. Liddy and Mr. Querard grew into a personal feud.
Mr. Liddy testified that he learned of the early ballot mailer plan on either July 8 or 9 of 2004. At that moment, he said, he did not know who had sent the piece and that he was concerned about possible voter disfranchisement, ensuring fairness for all Republican candidates in their primary elections, and avoiding any negative impacts on Republican strides for legislative offices and the presidency.
Liddy’s e-mail
On July 11, 2004, Mr. Liddy sent an e-mail to Maricopa County Republican officials warning of them of an apparent scheme, which he called fraudulent.
A day later, after filing a formal complaint with the office of Attorney General Terry Goddard about the matter, Mr. Liddy received a telephone call from Mr. Querard, who identified himself as the author of the mailing. The two disagreed over the legality of early ballot request form, with Mr. Querard adamant that it was legal.
On July 13, Mr. Querard wrote a “To Whom It May Concern Letter” to several legislative district chairmen complaining about Mr. Liddy’s e-mail to fellow Republicans.
The letter also included a message sent to District 7 Republican Chair Nancy Barto announcing his intention to defeat current District 20 Rep. John McComish, whom he identified as being a “pro-gay marriage, pro-gay adoption, pro-euthanasia and anti-home school candidate.”
He also mentioned that he had no plans to share data collected from the early ballot request effort with Mr. McComish or Rep. Bob Robson, R-20. Mr. Querard’s letter indicates that he felt that Mr. Liddy was supportive of Mr. Robson, who filed a complaint regarding the consultant’s actions with the Secretary of State’s Office and the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
He also accused Mr. Liddy of abandoning “our shared ideology” and of a deliberate attempt to sabotage Mr. Querard’s attempt to gather early voter data by refusing to retract his statement of warning to voters.
On July 15, Mr. Liddy responded to an e-mail from a supporter, calling a Mr. Querard a “whack job” for the consultant’s insinuation that Mr. Liddy is part of a “big conspiracy to secretly promote abortion and gay marriage.” He also stated, “I’m not going to say something is legal that I know is not just because the guy who did it agrees with me on social issues. Homey don’t play the cover-up game.”
On July 16, Mr. Liddy sent a response to an e-mail from a constituent upset about Mr. Liddy’s statements to members of the press concerning Mr. Querard’s early ballot request form plan. That’s what prompted Mr. Querard to file the defamation lawsuit in September 2004.
(See below for complete text of e-mail.)
Originally four charges had been filed but by the start of the trial, which took place March 27 and 28, Mr. Querard and his attorney Mr. Abney asked Judge Mark Aceto of the Maricopa County Superior Court to rule specifically if Mr. Liddy had committed defamation and false light invasion of privacy.
On March 28, Mr. Abney asked Judge Aceto to award Mr. Querard $1 in damages and reimbursement for legal costs.
Mr. Querard testified on March 27 that actions of Mr. Liddy had left him distressed, embarrassed and extremely concerned that future candidates would be reluctant to use his services.
“They (his potential clients) can go to somebody who isn’t a child molester, or money launderer or criminal of any kind,” he said on the witness stand, adding that he had become “radioactive” in the political sphere.
His wife Lisa also stated that Mr. Querard had suffered from headaches and sleeping problems from anxiety due to the potential ramifications of Mr. Liddy’s e-mail.
Mr. Querard said he was shocked by the outcome of the trial and Mr. Liddy’s defense, which “uttered the same theory again and again.”
He is not concerned about future legal implications from information made public during the affair.
“There was nothing that was secret or damaging to anyone,” he said. “It’s been to the attorney general, Clean Elections, to the secretary of state and the county attorney. They’ve all looked at it and nothing has happened.”

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