Monday, October 03, 2011

Secretary of State to investigate Cortes signs By Laurie Roberts - The Arizona Republic

(All the Russell Pearce, CQ, Cortes campaign had to do was add a ‘disclaimer’ like above to their signs to make them legal)

The Secretary of State's Office plans to look into the state's most fascinating whodunit.

That is, who paid for Olivia Cortes' campaign signs for the Russell Pearce recall election.

Meanwhile, the city of Mesa this morning removed the signs.

This after, both she and her campaign manager-who's-not-a-manager, Greg Western, testified under oath on Thursday they are stumped about who put out the conservative Republican's "Si, Se Puede!" signs, in colors of the Mexican flag.

"I've seen them but I don't know who put them up," candidate Cortes said.

"We don't know where the signs came from," said Western, who is chairman of the East Valley Tea Party and Cortes' go-to guy on the campaign. "I know there's campaign signs but we didn't pay for them."

So well then, WHO DID?

It seems I'm not the only one who is curious. This mystery has also caught the eye of Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is charged with enforcing campaign finance laws.

"We are going to be reaching out to the Cortes campaign and who Olivia has seemingly placed in charge of her campaign, Mr. Western, to ascertain who and if he has any understanding or know of who put these signs up or printed the signs and paid for them," Bennett's spokesman, Matt Roberts, told me this morning. "Because if they aren't a candidate's sign, they are required to have a 'paid for' disclosure and they don’t."

Which is why they were taken down on Friday morning. Christine Zielonka, who oversees code compliance in Mesa, says Cortes notified the city on Thursday that the Si, Se Puede signs are not hers.

"We have removed all of them that were out there today because they do not comply with the state statute," said Zielonka, who is director of the city's Development and Sustainability Department.

State law requires that signs put up by a third party disclose who paid for them and a contact name and phone number. The mysterious Si, Se Puede signs have none of that information. (Can't imagine why.)

Zielonka said the city had earlier been in contact with Cortes about several of the signs that were improperly placed but never directly asked her if they were hers. Cortes never volunteered the information.

So, it'll be left to Bennett's office to figure out who really did put up the signs. A canvas of the usual political sign companies should be able to turn up a name.

Meanwhile, Roberts said Bennett, like the rest of us, will be waiting with bated breath in a few weeks to find out who paid for a company to circulate Cortes' nominating petitions.

Cortes testified on Thursday that she was equally clueless about who paid for those signatures, which allowed her to qualify for the recall ballot.

"I never know who was circulating my petitions," she said. "I was told that people would be helping me."

Told, that is, by Western, who in turn testified that he, too, has no idea who paid for those petition circulators.....the ones who were instructed to tell Russell Pearce's supporters to sign the Cortes petitions in order to help Pearce win the election.

Most of Cortes' signatures were collected by the circulations, who were paid by ..... ?????

"I don't know that," Western testified. "I know somebody paid and I don't know who it is."

Constantin Querard, a Republican strategist running one of the two indepdent campaigns in support of Pearce, has said he wasn't involved. We'll see if the other independent committee discloses it on Oct. 27, when campaign finance reports are due.

"If someone has made a campaign finance expenditure and not formed a committee and not disclosed that on the campaign finance report., then that would be a violation of campaign finance law," Roberts said.

Related Articles:

State election officials launch investigation into Cortes signs - East Valley Tribune

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