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Meza accuses opponent of illegal campaign coordination

Sen. Robert Meza

Sen. Robert Meza today filed a third complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State against his Legislative District 30 Democratic primary opponent, Raquel Téran.

This time, Meza claims Téran’s campaign illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure committee that produced campaign mailers promoting Téran.

It’s just the latest barb in what has become one of the most contentious primary fights in the state, with each side increasingly claiming dirty campaign tactics against the other.

“I hope she gets kicked off the ballot,” Meza, a Phoenix Democrat, said.

Meza’s complaint claims that campaign finance records show Téran had been the deputy director and treasurer of Promise Arizona when she filed to run for the Legislature on March 15, and that therefore any involvement in the LD30 race by the group runs afoul of Arizona’s campaign finance laws.

READ THE COMPLAINT

“As Raquel Téran was an officer, agent, and member of (Promise Arizona) when the election cycle started and filed to run during her tenure, this is in direct violation of the laws regulating independent expenditures in Arizona elections,” the complaint reads.

Téran said she stepped down from her officer position with Promise Arizona, a group aimed at boosting political engagement among Latinos, on April 1 of this year, and that her understanding was that everything was done in comport with Arizona’s campaign finance laws.

“I haven’t been working with Promise Arizona for months,” Téran said.

She said she would need to have her campaign’s attorneys review the complaint and all the details in question before commenting further.

Petra Falcon, the chairwoman of Promise Arizona, the independent expenditure committee in question, said no campaign finance law has been violated.

While Falcon said Téran had been an officer for Promise Arizona, all the proper measures were taken to ensure that Arizona’s campaign finance laws were followed, she said.

“We were very intentional about making sure that everything was done correctly,” Falcon said. “As soon as (Téran) contemplated the run, we severed all professional relationships.”

Falcon said she would also be consulting with the groups attorneys to review the complaint.

The mailer produced by Promise Arizona, which shows Meza side by side with former Sen. Russell Pearce and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, says Meza sponsored a bill in 2005 that resulted in the deportation of an undocumented 18-year-old honor student.

Meza takes issue with the claim made in the piece, saying that the bill he sponsored, which requires impounding a vehicle if the driver does not have a valid drivers’ license and auto insurance, had nothing to do with the girl’s deportation. Instead, Meza said her driver’s license was obtained with forged documents, and that the girl was pursued for felony charges related to that, which led to her deportation.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State said they are early in the process of evaluating the complaint.

Meza’s complaint today follows others filed earlier this month that claimed Téran’s campaign illegally incurred debt, which is not allowed for a publicly financed candidate, as well as that her campaign illegally coordinated with the United Food & Workers Union, Hispanic activists and the Democratic Party.

The Secretary of State today requested additional information from those named in Meza’s prior complaint.

A west Phoenix activist who said she is not connected with either campaign filed a request for an investigation into Meza’s campaign finance records from 2009-2011 earlier this month.

So far, the Secretary of State has not responded to the request for a probe into Meza’s old campaign finance activity.

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