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New witnesses to testify in Cortes lawsuit

Olivia Cortes testifies during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court Sept. 29. (Photo by Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic)A judge has scheduled a Friday hearing to allow new witnesses to testify in a lawsuit that seeks to disqualify the candidacy of a Mesa woman whose critics say is in the race to help Senate President Russell Pearce keep his seat.

Election Attorney Thomas Ryan, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Pearce critic, plans to call more witnesses during a 3:30 p.m. evidentiary hearing.

Trial court judge Edward Burke on Monday refused to grant a preliminary injunction seeking to throw Republican Olivia Cortes off the ballot.

But he also rejected Cortes’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit alleging she’s a “diversionary” candidate who’s running to siphon off votes against fellow Republican Jerry Lewis, who is considered to be Pearce’s main contender.

Burke ruled that Cortes was clearly recruited by Pearce’s supporters who also helped her qualify as a candidate for the Nov. 8 recall election, but that he will not kick her off the ballot.

The judge said it’s not the court’s job to “examine and be the final arbiter of the motives political candidates may have.”

After the hearing, people came forward with new information and Ryan intends to present that evidence in court, he said.

He wouldn’t say who the witnesses will be, but he said they would include Pearce’s supporters.

Ryan admitted it’d be highly difficult to remove Cortes’ name from the ballot at this point – many ballots have already been printed – but he said the court could still declare her candidacy null.

“It could agree that the new information raises evidence that had not been obtained before nor could it have been obtained before, and it could have her candidacy declared null and void,” he said.

Ryan’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of a Mesa resident, claims that Cortes was part of a “cynical ploy” to divert Hispanic votes from Lewis.

Cortes’ lawyer, Anthony Tsontakis, said the lawsuit was politically motivated and it sought to achieve nothing but to defame Cortes.

The lawyer also made a compelling reason against removing Cortes from the ballot. The government, he said, had no business inquiring into the motivations of people who gather signatures for a candidate.

He added that removing a candidate from the ballot would chill political speech.

Tsontakis said the court already appropriately ruled not to remove Cortes from the ballot based on First Amendment grounds.

“Those things may or may not be true. But it’s not the court’s business,” Tsontakis said of allegations that Cortes was recruited to siphon off votes from Lewis.

9 comments

  1. 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 style 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.

  2. It might not be “illegal” to front a fraudulent candidate, but isn’t it illegal to perjure yourself and lie on the stand in a court of law???

  3. I love how Pearce and his supporters rationalize their misdeeds away. Instead of taking responsibility for their wrong choices and apologizing, they try to “deflect” the topic onto something else. Some past “wrong” that someone else did. Or they love to scream, it wasn’t just me. Everybody else was doing it! That’s how Russell Pearce handled his taking of $40,000 in freebies from the Fiesta Bowl. Instead of manning up and apologizing, he ranted on about how everyone else did it too. (He did forget to mention that he took almost 3 times as much as anyone else or that he took a whopping TEN all expense paid trips). A man of integrity would have asked Olivia Cortes to step down once the truth was apparent to everyone. Or at the very least, would have asked his supporters to stop their deceit. He claims he knew nothing about it. He knows about it now. What’s his excuse for allowing this sham to continue? He piously claims Olivia has a right to run and where’s Gloria Allred when you need her? That we are discriminating this poor Hispanic woman. The only thing that’s happening to Olivia Cortes, is she’s being used by people without a heart and without conscience. Sure hope the voters of LD 18 are paying attention. You get to show how you feel about such actions with your vote on Nov. 8th.

  4. Isn’t it illegal to go after someone for you don’t like what they stand for! Aka Randy Paraz who started this witchhunt on Pearce and is not even from the state of Arizona!!! That is preposterous, but the satanic dems can’t let America be americans ,no they want the illegals to take over our state so they can manipulate them What fools! This Jerry Lewis is no candidate has no background of state or political issues, is a poster child for the Soros who hate this country. Wake up people they are being paid to try to take our state apart

  5. The argument presented by the first poster is, basically: Because I believe this happened in the past, and because I believe my political rival committed this act, it is fine for the group I support to now utilize similar tactics. In this case, the poster advocates that two wrongs do indeed make a right.

    This false equivalency is wrong on every level but it strikes at the heart of what citizens of the country and this great State have grown weary of; the hyperbole and rhetoric that have made reaching common ground an endangered act.

    And, without doubt, it is a major reason for the public’s ever increasing discontent with Senator Pearce.

  6. Evie, I was part of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the people behind the recall. Chad Snow who lives in West Phoenix and Randy Parraz who lives in Scottsdale are the co-chairmen. I live in district 18 and so do 20 other active members of CBA. This was not an “outside” job as people claim. Chad Snow and I are Republicans and so are many other’s involved in the recall. Our organization was comprised of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all with one purpose in mind. To stop the nonsense and bring normalcy back to Arizona. We were tired of the divisiveness and hate mongering. When Russell Pearce was made Senate President we decided enough was enough. We worked hard for 4 months walking around district 18 and gathering enough signatures. We followed the constitution of the state of Arizona in everything we did. Our actions were not illegal. Our actions have been sanctioned by the state of Arizona for it’s entire 100 years. It was not easy. If it was we would have had a successful recall before now. This is the first ever in our state. We acted as volunteers because this cause was important enough to us to spend thousands of hours to make it possible. Those who say otherwise are still stuck in the hate and divisiveness that we are trying so desparately to stop.

  7. Following a law that has been a part of Arizona’s constitution for 100 years is far from illegal. If you don’t like it, change the constitution but stop whining about it. Every time you complain and demonize the recall, you are telling over 10,000 citizens and voters of LD 18 that their opinion doesn’t matter or count. You are in effect saying that your opinion is more important than theirs. Well, those people have spoken and Russell Pearce was recalled. Now it’s again up to the voters of LD 18 to speak and make a choice. That’s what this is all about, giving the people of LD 18 a chance to express their desires about the future of Mesa and Arizona. I’d like to say one thing to Russell Pearce and his followers. Stop cheating and let the people of this district, openly and honestly make the decision in the polls on Nov. 8th.

  8. University of Phoenix Attorney against Lewis’ lawyer, Ryan’s

    These lawsuits would mean that the government would regularly have to evaluate the political associations and beliefs of its citizens in court. The legal costs of political activism would rise to intolerably high levels.

    All people would have real legal reasons to fear who they associated with because they might be asked to justify those associations on the stand.

    In a word, it would be the beginning of the end of democracy in Arizona. So let’s hope no one ever brings a lawsuit like this again. Our free press is well-equipped to expose sham candidacies, and the people can judge politicians’ motivational purity for themselves.

    After establishing just how far, exactly, to the political Right these people can be found on the spectrum, Ryan executed what was probably the most constitutionally repugnant part of his litigation strategy — he required each of them to list every single political ally by name; that is, to identify each person they associate with politically. Then he asked them to describe the political beliefs and goals of their friends, one by one — are they conservative activists? Tea Party members? And so on.

    When Mr. Ryan asked Cortes petition circulator Suzanne Dreher whether she understood that what she did could amount to a Class 5 felony under his theory of the law, Dreher broke down in tears. What “crime” did Ms. Dreher commit, you ask? As she circulated Cortes petitions, she told registered voters that if Olivia Cortes appeared on the ballot, Russell Pearce would have a better chance of being re-elected.

    At its bloody roots, the First Amendment means one thing — and one thing only: The government has no right to pass judgment on the associations of its citizens — political, religious, ideological, or otherwise. Yet Mr. Ryan asked a Judge to invent a law whereby such associations can give rise to legal and criminal liability.

    The Constitution was enacted to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.”
    AZ Capital Times opinion article Un of Phoenix law professor

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