Fillmore calls for Crandall’s ouster, despite history of defending disgraced ex-lawmakers

Bill Bertolino//July 17, 2012

Fillmore calls for Crandall’s ouster, despite history of defending disgraced ex-lawmakers

Bill Bertolino//July 17, 2012

Reps. John Fillmore and Brenda Barton held a press conference July 17 to call for the ouster of Sen. Rich Crandall after a disputre regarding campaign signs and a threat from Crandall to block any education legislation by Barton next year. (Josh Coddington/Arizona Captiol Times)

Rep. John Fillmore has defended a former lawmaker who was accused of domestic violence. And he’s asked the courts to be lenient on another legislator who was convicted of defrauding a children’s charity.

But the Apache Junction Republican says his political challenger, Sen. Rich Crandall, should be subject to an ethics trial, removed from his committee chairmanship and ultimately ousted from office because Crandall threatened to kill future legislation backed by Fillmore’s House colleague.

Fillmore said Crandall is unfit for public office because he threatened to use his position as Senate Education Committee chairman to halt any future bills sponsored by Rep. Brenda Barton.

Barton, a Payson Republican, is at the center of a feud between Fillmore and Crandall over the removal of one of Fillmore’s campaign signs. Fillmore and Crandall are challenging each other for the Legislative District 16 Senate seat.

Barton confronted Crandall’s daughter last week when the girl took down one of Fillmore’s campaign signs and replaced it with one of Crandall’s. Barton took photos of the girl and sent them to Fillmore, who sent them to the media and posted them online.

Crandall, a Mesa Republican, said he instructed his daughter to take down Fillmore’s sign because it was attached to Crandall’s sign posts. Fillmore contends the sign posts were his.

Crandall later called Barton and told her he was “furious” at her for confronting his daughter and told her: “You better not try to run any education legislation whatsoever the next two years.”

Barton and Fillmore held a press conference today in the historic State Capitol building to state their case as to why they believe Crandall should be investigated.

They insisted the issue had nothing to do with politics or the sign dispute itself, but rather how Crandall reacted to Barton and his threats to use his position of power to kill bills.

“Education is a cause Senator Crandall professes to champion, and yet he clearly demonstrated that it goes under the bus when it comes to settling his personal scores and that he’ll use his position of trust to do just that,” said Barton, who also said she believes Crandall tried to bully her because she is a woman.

Fillmore said Crandall is “not deserving of the (Education) chairmanship and not deserving of the Senate seat.”

But Fillmore came to the defense of former Tucson Rep. Daniel Patterson, who resigned shortly after an ethics investigation into domestic violence allegations that he roughed up his ex-girlfriend and intimidated legislative staffers and colleagues.

Fillmore also asked a federal judge to be lenient on former Rep. Richard Miranda, who was convicted earlier this year of wire fraud and tax evasion in connection to stealing from a children’s charity he ran.

In a letter to the court, Fillmore described Miranda as an “inspiration and mentor of sorts” who got him acclimated to the Legislature and who deserves community service rather than prison.

Fillmore explained today that Miranda was always “articulate and honest with me.” And he said Patterson “was being railroaded initially based upon a lot of innuendo.”

“What we have here is a state senator that has threatened legislation … and I am aware of it, and know for a fact in my heart (he) has downgraded (Barton).”

Fillmore also claims Crandall told Barton she should be wary of a “thrashing coming” citing a voicemail Crandall left for Barton.

But Fillmore got it wrong.

On the voicemail, first published online at AzCapitolTimes.com, Crandall says there will be “no retraction” coming; he does not say there will be “a thrashing coming.”

The “retraction” comment stems from Barton demanding that Crandall retract his statements to the Arizona Capitol Times that Barton shouted at Crandall’s daughter and swore at her.

Barton vehemently denies she was anything other than polite to the girl, and only instructed her to leave Fillmore’s sign alone.

Fillmore said at the press conference that he is “deaf as a doornail” and had difficulty making out the voicemail, saying the alleged part about the “thrashing” was particularly difficult to understand.

Crandall said he is getting some of the “most vile” emails from Fillmore supporters about his daughter, due to the photos being published online.

“You just don’t attack family members in a campaign.” Crandall said.

“Should I have counted to 10? Maybe,” he said of threatening to halt Barton’s future education bills.