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SOS investigates pro-Cortes signs; Mesa removes them


The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office will investigate the mystery involving who posted the signs supporting the candidacy of Mesa recall candidate Olivia Cortes.

And Mesa officials today removed the signs, which contain the slogan “Si, se puede,” based on Cortes’ testimony on Thursday that revealed she doesn’t own them or know who put them up.

“Now that we know they are not hers, we are going to take a look at that,” said state election director Amy Chan. “We’ve got to figure out a way to try to talk to whoever it is and see if we can get them to put a disclosure on there to come into compliance, at a minimum.”

Since the signs aren’t owned by Cortes, they’re violating a state law that says they should have contained a “paid for by” disclosure, Chan said.

Chan added if a political committee other than Cortes’ campaign paid for those signs, that committee is required to report the spending.

“Theoretically, whoever paid for these — that will be in their report, and that’s required,” she said.

Cortes, a candidate in the Nov. 8 recall election targeting Senate President Russell Pearce, is facing a lawsuit alleging that she’s a “diversionary” candidate who is running to siphon off votes from another contender, thereby allowing Pearce to keep his seat.

But a bigger trouble potentially awaits whoever paid circulators who gathered the signatures that helped Cortes to qualify for the ballot.

Cortes told the court Thursday that she doesn’t know who paid the signature gatherers.

The payment won’t likely be considered an independent expenditure since paying for nominating signatures has directly benefited Cortes by putting her on the ballot.

But if it’s a contribution to Cortes’ campaign, it is subject to limits.

Individual contributions, for example, are capped at $424 for legislative races.

This means if the amount that was spent to pay for the signatures surpassed the limit, then it violates campaign finance laws, and the unknown donor — or donors — could face a civil fine of three times the amount in question.

Cortes could be on the hook as well.

Now that she knows that somebody else has paid for many of her signatures, she needs to find out who did it so she could properly report the donation, said election Attorney Rhonda Barnes.

Otherwise, the situation sets her up for a potential campaign finance violation, she said.

“In a sense, that’s illegal because if somebody is paying for it and not telling her, then she is unknowingly, potentially filing a campaign finance report that’s false because she’s not reporting those contributions,” Barnes said. “You’re submitting a campaign finance report and you’re saying this is true and correct regarding the expenses and contributions of my campaign, and, in fact, that’s a false statement because somebody has donated this to you.”

Barnes suggested that if Cortes can’t find out who made the payment, she should ask the Secretary of State’s office about how to handle the situation.

In any case, it appears Cortes could still remedy the situation.

Her campaign could pay for the signature-gathering effort. Or she could loan her campaign some money to pay for it.

Meanwhile, Mesa decided to take down Cortes’ signs because the city learned they weren’t hers.

Christine Zielonka, a city officer, said Mesa earlier took the position that the pro-Cortes campaign already violated state law because it lacked contact information as required by law.

But Zielonka said the city wanted to extend Cortes some courtesy and was giving her time to comply.

“But once we got to the point where there was nobody that would say, ‘Yes, we’ll go out and make sure (we’re) in compliance with the requirements’, then basically our only position was to say, ‘Well, there’s no way to make them legal. We have to remove them,” she said.

6 comments

  1. It won’t be to hard to figure out which company printed the signs.

    Okay, LD 19 and East Valley Tea Party, are you guys going to help Cortes out financially with her new campaign and legal fees? Make sure to save some money for your own legal fees, you shameful, rotten scoundrels.

  2. Mesa then also needs to examine who paid for Lewis’ signatures. There are videos all over the Internet with Randy Parraz raising money all over the country to get Lewis signatures and to pay for the signs. Pray tell me, what is the difference?

    Is this (not ok) because Cordes is a conservative republican and (yet ok) Lewis is backed by IAF, MoveOn.org, ACORN and SEIU and other mob-controlled unions? Do these Mesa employees mentioned above belong to a government union(s)??

    Why is this rule not fair for one vs the other? If you go after Cortes, then you need to look at Lewis. If not, this is just another racist attack against a conservative Hispanic and bigoted against a woman Republican.

  3. WeThePeople -

    Pray tell – yes there is a difference. It has to do with disclosure, honesty and state election laws. The Lewis campaign can acept donations from whomever it pleases (and surprise! even Russel Pearce politcal foes!) as long as the campaign follows state laws in disclosure. What evidence do you have of Lewis malfeasance other than wild-eyed conjecture. There is clear fraud taking place with the Cortes sham campaign. Funny how with Pearce and his followers “rule of law” seems to apply to everyone – except where their interests are concerned. I guess it just goes to show – if you are afraid can’t win an election legally – go ahead and commit fraud in the attempt to steal it. How very patriotic!

  4. Robert Hernandez McDonald Jr, D-Mesa

    Why do you wing nuts keep bring up ACORN when they are a dead organization? Change your programming.

  5. The media leaves the impression that this type of gamesmanship is unusual;however, the Dems use this tactic twice last year and the old time media ignores it.

    The AZ Democrats “Gamesmanship” Just for Year 2010:
    1) Republican Schweikert successfully ran against incumbent Dem Mitchell in CD5 last year. The Dems sent out brochures in support of another party Libertarian candidate (believe Nick Coons)to take votes away from Schweikert from his conservative/libertarian base. The media was silent because they support playing dirty tricks to help a candidate they love-Mitchell.

    2) When Republican Kelly almost bet Dem Giffords (lost by 4000 votes) it was due to 11,174 votes going to the Libertarian candidate, Steven Stoltz, Who paid for and distributed the direct mail for Stolz? You guessed it-the AZ Democratic party. The Dems put on Stoltz’ brochures that Stoltz was “The Real Conservative”knowing that war hero Jesse Kelly was the conservative/tea party favorite? Hum! Where was the old media then?

    And the Stoltz hit piece by the Dems didn’t even have the required “paid by” on the brochures until Bivens admitted to it. Where was the Az Rep’s indignation? What wasn’t Don Bivens asked to resign as Dem State party Chair (believe he has now since Cheney in office)? (Mesa took down Olivia’s signs because they didn’t say “paid for”. ( Mesa’s employees are unionized?).

    In the Cortes case, the media are in full frenzy. This poor Hispanic patriot is called “ignorant”. “sham” (check out Lewis’ puppet master-Randy Parraz for the definition of Sham), and the ultimate bigotry from Roberts that Cortes does not know how to say “incumbent”. Now the AZ Rep is calling Cortes stupid because a group they despise (conservatives) engaged in a trick to support a candidate the AZ Rep hates.The out of date media is silent on the dirty tricks of their left wing brethern. For supporting documents on above, go to Expresso Pundit.

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