After being on the defensive in his race for the state Senate, former Sen. Ken Cheuvront hit back with a campaign ad that tied House Minority Leader Chad Campbell to the Fiesta Bowl scandal.
The mail piece, which voters in central Phoenix received, said Campbell and former Sen. Russell Pearce were “both investigated for their roles in the Fiesta Bowl scandal.”
But the mailer did not mention that investigators concluded Campbell and several others properly disclosed gifts they received.
The fresh attack affirms the intraparty feud that has consumed the campaigns in the last few weeks.
The mailer cited as its source an Arizona Capitol Times story last December about the findings of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who investigated the Fiesta Bowl scandal. An internal report conducted by the Fiesta Bowl board of directors and made public in early 2011 had found that many lawmakers went on out-of- state junkets paid for by the Bowl and they got free football tickets, but they didn’t report the gifts as required by law.
The mailer showed a photo of Pearce alongside that of Campbell. Pearce prominently figured in the Fiesta Bowl investigation, which showed he received more than $39,000 in free trips, game tickets and hotel accommodation.
The back of the mailer accused Campbell of misleading voters on three topics, citing fact-checks done by the Arizona Republic.
In an email, Campbell called the attacks against him Orwellian.
He said Cheuvront and his mother, Jean McDermott, are engaged in “personal attacks, half-truth and outright lies.”
Campbell noted that Montgomery cited him as one of a few legislators who followed campaign finance laws and paid for his own tickets. He also has never accepted contributions from the Fiesta Bowl, he said.
“This double speak and lying may be the kind of thing you’d read in George Orwell’s book 1984, but it has no place in civil dialogue in the real world—and voters deserve better,” Campbell said.
The House minority leader used the mailer as a fundraising device.
Cheuvront shot back, accusing Campbell of having a double-standard.
“He has no problem of trying to tie me with Russell (Pearce), but when I do it with him he comes unglued. He seems to have a double standard,” Cheuvront told a Capitol Times reporter in an email. “Does Chad think that you are his lap dog? When he doesn’t like something he comes running to the press.”
Cheuvront maintained that the mailer is accurate. Pearce and Campbell were both investigated by Montgomery, he said.
“We took it right out of your paper,” Cheuvrront said.
Cheuvront’s mom, Jean McDermott, is running against Campbell a four-way primary race for two House seats in Legislative District 24, which is located in central Phoenix.
The senator and his mother are running as a team. The ad is paid for by McDermott’s committee.
Campbell, Rep. Lela Alston and Rep. Katie Hobbs, who is pitted against Cheuvront in the Senate race, are also running as a ticket.
Campbell was one of 28 legislators and three other elected officials that Montgomery’s office investigated in connected with the Fiesta Bowl controversy. The County Attorney’s eight-month work looked into whether the public officials illegal accepted or failed to report gifts from the Fiesta Bowl.
But the mailer failed to say that Campbell was one of 15 people whom investigators said “properly disclosed” gifts — something that the Arizona Capitol Times also noted in the 2011 article on Montgomery’s findings.
The investigation found that the Fiesta Bowl organization spent more than $39,000 on airfare, game tickets, food and hotel accommodation for Pearce.
Campbell, meanwhile, only received about $1,700 in gifts.
The competing Democratic teams have been hurling claims and counterclaims in the last few weeks. Earlier, Hobbs and her ticket accused Cheuvront of having voted four years ago to cut school funding by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Cheuvront called the attack a lie, arguing his vote wouldn’t have cut education funding because any gap would been have been backfilled with money from the general fund.
Former governor Janet Napolitano also vetoed the bill, which meant the tax’s repeal didn’t materialize.