Earlier this year, Citizens Clean Elections Commission sided with a Phoenix consultant Larry Davis in a bitter dispute that threatens the political career of District 10 Rep. Doug Quelland.
But on Aug. 7, it was Davis who was put on the defensive by a blistering cross-examination by Quelland’s attorney Tim Casey in an effort to paint the consultant as a bitter hanger-on to the lawmaker’s 2008 campaign for office.
The attorney got started by prompting Davis to admit he had met with Clean Elections attorneys twice within the past week to sharpen his responses to questions that were leveled against him during the course of Quelland’s appeal of a May order mandating his removal from office.
“You kind of scripted out what you were going to tell the judge today, right?” Casey said.
In March of 2007, Quelland signed a $15,000 contract with Davis’ firm, Intermedia Public Relations, for a variety of campaign services. Quelland maintains the contract was terminated within days of signing, but Davis argues that he continued to work for the campaign.
The contract, according to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, pushed Quelland’s 2008 campaign expenditure limits to the point where state law demands he be removed from office.
The differing accounts have pitted the pair against each other, and while Davis denies holding personal animosity, Casey attacked Davis’ claim with a vengeance before an administrative law judge.
The attorney all but accused the consultant of leaking a copy of the contract to Democrats in Quelland’s district, noting the agreement “somehow” found its way into the hands of District 10 Democrat activist Carol Vandercook.
“How would she get it?” he asked. “You, right?”
In November, it was Vandercook who filed the campaign finance complaint against Quelland that led to the Clean Elections order and the court hearing. Vandercook and her attorney have refused to divulge how they received the document.
Davis denied divulging the contract to the lawmaker’s political rivals, and answered most of Casey’s questions with flat denials.
Davis denied he set out to harm Quelland, but Quelland’s attorney said Davis had carbon copied Quelland on an e-mail sent to District 10’s Republican Rep. Jim Weiers and state Senator Linda Gray that told of somebody spreading vicious gossip about Davis. The simple conclusion, said Casey, was that Davis was speaking about Quelland.
Davis acknowledged the messages accurately identified his e-mail address, but he denied sending them.
Davis’ no-knowledge claim is a familiar tune in the case against Quelland, and the ensuing appeal.
The commission’s May decision to vacate Quelland’s seat was largely swayed by documents provided by Davis, including numerous invoices allegedly sent to the lawmaker demanding payment for services.
Quelland maintains he never received them, while his attorney stated the lawmaker believed they were forgeries created as part of a plan to “get even.”
Casey also took exception with Davis’ claim that he has worked on more than 300 campaigns since turning 17 years old. Davis then admitted he had only had paid work with a single legislative candidate.
Casey also noted that Davis’ accusation against Quelland, if true, would ensnare the businessman in what Casey called a “criminal conspiracy to break state law” by allowing corporate funds to be funneled into the lawmaker’s 2008 campaign.
Davis replied that he was told by Quelland that the money, provided by a business owned by the lawmaker, was a loan that would be repaid once the campaign attracted additional funding.
“It was fair to say he betrayed my trust,” Davis said.
The statement elicited further questioning by Casey, who implored, “Do you think he (Quelland) gamed the system.”
“I do,” Davis said.
José de Jesus Rivera, an attorney hired by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, later addressed Casey’s contention that Davis’ role in the campaign was limited to that of a lowly volunteer.
Rivera said Davis had purchased campaign literature, magnets, and other items on Quelland’s behalf. The consultant also arranged several fundraisers for the lawmaker, he said.