Court hearings are scheduled today in Arizona to further explore allegations of voter fraud among the state’s Green Party candidates. The actions come just as a new group, Truth AZ (TruthAZ.com), has registered with the Arizona secretary of state as an independent expenditure committee in order to fight what it calls rampant corruption ahead of the upcoming elections.
The Green Party has tried to kick some candidates off its slate, alleging they were recruited by the state Republican Party to siphon votes from the Democrats. And a Truth AZ member and local business leader has released recorded phone conversations with potential Green Party candidates that appear to support the sham allegations. (Hear recordings of those calls on the Truth AZ site.)
The controversy has been roiling since a district-court judge last week ruled that nine people who are running on the Green Party line may have their names printed on ballots, despite complaints that they are sham candidates. However, legal teams can still submit more court filings contesting the validity of the candidates and asserting the rights of the Green Party.
Two current lawsuits are challenging the crop of suspect Greens. One is the Green Party suit in which the judge declined to issue a restraining order to keep some of the party’s own candidates off the ballot. Another case, brought by the state Democratic Party, also to have the candidates disqualified, will receive a hearing today. In legal documents, the Democrats allege that of 14 Green Party contenders, only two were not previously registered as Republicans. The documents also detail telephone calls from early August between Shawn Nelson, the local businessman, and several of the allegedly fake Green candidates, including Christopher Campbell, who had been running for the 10th District Senate seat, but has since dropped out. Here are excerpts:
Campbell: I'm for S.B. 1070 [the bill that created Arizona's controversial new immigration law], by the way.
Nelson: OK, so this will help Linda Gray [the GOP candidate], then?
Campbell: Yes, it will. The likelihood of me even winning is incredibly small. You know, basically one in a million, all right, which is [inaudible]. But just having my name on the ballot is going to take votes away from the Democrats
Nelson: OK, I just want to make sure I'm not going to actually help somebody pushing Green Party issues to win.
Campbell: Not a problem.
Campbell is a roommate of the daughter of state Rep. Jim Weiers (R-Phoenix), according to The Arizona Republic. Nelson filed a declaration in federal court that the recordings and transcript are authentic.
In a separate call between Nelson and Gail Ginger, also running for the state Senate, Ginger gives Nelson the cell-phone number of John Mills, a staffer for Republicans in the state House of Representatives, after Nelson inquires about how to help the Green Party:
Ginger: And I can give you his cell number and see if there's any way—he's connected with the Republican Party—to see if there—he might be able to give you direction also.
Nelson: What's his position, or whatever? What's he do?
Ginger: He works for the House of Representatives. He's familiar with Jim Weiers and the group down there, the conservative group down there.
Nelson: OK, yeah, that would be cool.
Ginger: OK, just one second, let me get that number [pause]. OK, John's cell number is [gives the number].
Nelson: OK, and he's—you said he's the one who could probably help me determine how to do stuff the best way once you or Chris wins?
Ginger: Yeah, I would think. Hang on just a sec [pause]. OK, thanks for holding. Yeah, I think at this moment in time John would probably be the one to speak with about how to proceed.
Supporters of the allegedly sham Green Party candidates insist those people genuinely wish to serve and are within their rights to do so. Paul Charlton, an attorney for one of the candidates being challenged, Anthony "Grandpa" Goshorn, who is a 53-year-old pedicab driver (and not one of those recorded), says of his client: "Mr. Goshorn wishes to be a candidate. This is a dream he wishes to fulfill, and he has every right to go forward."
Mike Manning, a lawyer with Truth AZ, tells NEWSWEEK, "It is very Nixonesque out here. I was in the dump-Nixon campaign in '71 and it's like 'back to the future.' " Further, he adds, "There's more to this than just this election. In Arizona we have the clean-elections fund, and these people are all now qualified to apply for public money. This isn't just about politics but also improper and illegal use of public funds. I don't think they'll apply for the public money now, like they did in 2008, because they've been exposed."