Steve May has been unapologetic over his recruitment of four Mill Avenue “street people” to run as Green Party candidates, and his defiance was on full display when he took the witness stand.
Attorney Paul Eckstein, part of the legal team that sued in an attempt to keep a slate of alleged “sham” Green write-in candidates off the ballot, called May to the stand Sept. 13 for a hearing on the lawsuit. The questioning, and May’s responses, took an acrimonious turn early on and held that tone until May left the stand.
When Eckstein asked May what assistance and considerations he had given the four Mill Avenue “street people” he recruited to run as Greens, a defiant May said he gave them a lot of help to cope with a lawsuit he thought was a sham as well.
“A lot of heartache and pain because of your behavior,” May said. “The value of my consulting to them is priceless.”
May, who withdrew his candidacy for a District 17 House seat earlier in the day, repeatedly voiced his thoughts on Eckstein’s case and argued with the attorney, at one point prompting Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink to remind them not to talk over each other so the court stenographer could get everyone’s words.
May refuted Eckstein’s suggestion that the money he paid for his candidates’ legal defense – he paid former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton to represent in a federal lawsuit filed by the Arizona Green Party – qualified as an-kind contribution to their campaigns.
“That’s not what the statute reads and you should know better,” May said.
Even at the start of Eckstein’s questioning, when the attorney from Perkins Coie Brown & Bain queried May about his education and background as a “student of politics,” May didn’t make things easy.
“You read my bio,” May said matter-of-factly.
If May’s hostility on the stand bothered Eckstein, he didn’t let it show. But some of May’s comments event prompted Fink to remind him who was the witness and who was the attorney.
“He gets to ask you questions. You don’t get to ask him questions,” Fink said near the end of May’s testimony.
May denied Democrats’ allegations that he recruited Theodore Gomez, Anthony “Grandpa” Goshorn, Thomas Meadows and Benjamin Pearcy to siphon votes from Democratic candidates. But he’s loudly and proudly acknowledged that he recruited them into their races.
“I inspired them,” May said when asked if he recruited the candidates.
May’s candidates were only four of the 11 originally named in the lawsuit, but the former lawmaker and his coterie of eccentric Mill Avenue regulars have taken center stage since the drama first unfolded. Goshorn, a pedicab driver who had to phone in his testimony because he didn’t have a ride to the courthouse, vowed that 2010 would be only the first of his runs for office.
Goshorn made it clear that he didn’t think any more of the lawsuit than his patron May.
“I apologize that you had to spend your time with this fiasco,” Goshorn told Fink when he was dismissed from the stand.
Goshorn said he agrees with most of the Green Party’s principles, which he learned of when decided to run for office, and has reached out to the party since becoming a candidate. He indicated that he’ll be back if he doesn’t win his District 17 Senate race, meaning we may be seeing more of him, May and the rest of the Mill Avenue ticket in 2012.
“This is going to be a continued relationship one way or another,” he said when asked if he’d ever contacted the Green Party’s leadership. “I intend to continue to seek office.”
Eckstein kept his cool while questioning May. Eckstein said his job was to diminish May’s credibility, and by taking such an aggressive posture, May did Eckstein’s job for him.
“I learned in the Mecham trial to not take the bait and to let witnesses destroy themselves,” said Eckstein, who prosecuted former Gov. Evan Mecham in his 1988 impeachment trial. “I thought (May) did. Read the judge’s opinion. He didn’t have a lot of credibility with the judge.”
Fink didn’t reference May’s attitude on the bench, but wrote in his ruling that he didn’t buy the former lawmaker’s explaination that he recruited his four candidates because he was simply trying to help out his friends.
“Mr. May’s testimony regarding the reason he encouraged the four individuals to run for office lacked credibility,” Fink said.