Thursday, August 16, 2012

An AZ Latino Republican Association Leader Aided Sham Candidate Olivia Cortes - by Stephen Lemons - Feathered Bastard

From the Radio ALRA Facebook page, standing second from the left: Russell Pearce, Haydee Dawson, Dino Eliades, and Rey Torres (center).

By Stephen Lemons Thursday, Aug 9 2012
If you need a lesson in hysterics, look no further than a new press release from the Arizona Latino Republican Association, which targeted Republican state Senate candidate Bob Worsley over comments he made in an interview with KFYI 550 AM radio host Barry Markson.

Worsley is the rival of disgraced, recalled state Senate President Russell Pearce in the GOP Legislative District 25 primary, and the ALRA has endorsed Pearce, despite Pearce's having sworn to drive as may Latinos from Sand Land as possible.

Markson was discussing the endorsement Pearce had received from a different group, the Arizona Teacher's [sic] Association, which I exposed in my Feathered Bastard blog as probably a sham organization with not one identifiable teacher in it, and he asked Worsley to comment.

"You look at two of his endorsements," Worsley said, "the Arizona Latino Republicans and the Arizona Teacher's Association, two [organizations] you would not naturally think. . . he could claim that he has endorsements from."

"You look at two of his endorsements," Worsley said, "the Arizona Latino Republicans and the Arizona Teacher's Association, two [organizations] you would not naturally think. . . he could claim that he has endorsements from."

That's a fairly tame and accurate statement, as Pearce helped slice the state's education budget to the bone when he was in power and as he was the primary legislative pimp of Senate Bill 1070, Arizona's Latino-targeting ethnic-cleansing law.

Apparently, the ATA's reputation is such that the ALRA took offense at getting mentioned in the same breath, slamming Worsley in a release for having "mis-characterized" the ALRA as "having been formed for the sole purpose of endorsing Russell Pearce."

In other words, the ALRA claims Worsley was calling it a sham — which the ATA certainly seems to be and diversionary candidate Olivia Cortes certainly was during last year's recall election.

You'll remember that Cortes withdrew her candidacy after she and various pro-Pearce folks were dragged into Maricopa County Superior Court by Chandler attorney and verbal pugilist extraordinaire Tom Ryan.

There, Judge Edward O. Burke found that Cortes was recruited to siphon votes away from Pearce's challenger in the recall, current state Senator Jerry Lewis.

Based on Worsley's statement, I don't think he was implying that the ALRA, which has been around for a few years, was a sham organization.

But I now come to find out that a couple of its current board members apparently were involved in some shammy activities during the recall.

According to various sources, the ALRA's current vice president, Constantinos "Dino" Eliades, helped solicit signatures to place Cortes' name on the ballot. Indeed, Eliades' name, address, and signature appear on three petition sheets as a circulator for Cortes.

ALRA board president Rey Torres, who works as a spokesman for Arizona State House Speaker Andy Tobin, did not return calls or Facebook queries for a comment. Ditto Eliades.

However, I was able to get group treasurer Haydee Dawson on the phone, where she admitted that Eliades had assisted Cortes' sham-wow candidacy.

"Dino Eliades was not a member of the board [of the ALRA] at the time," she told me. "As a [Republican] precinct committeeman, he has an obligation to help any candidate get on the ballot, regardless of who it is."

Still, Eliades was an ALRA member and a regular on Radio ALRA, the group's now-defunct Saturday-evening talk-radio program on KKNT 960 AM.

Eliades, supposedly of Greek descent, may not have been acting on the ALRA's behalf, but according to more than one former ALRA member, the group was so concerned about the situation that it discussed pulling Eliades from the show, at least until the Cortes scandal passed.

Ruben Sanchez, who once produced the radio show and who now accuses the ALRA of stealing the show from him and of owing him tens of thousands of dollars for services rendered, remembers such discussions.

"Rey and Haydee wanted to put some distance between themselves and Dino," Sanchez recalled during a recent interview. "Rey told me, 'Look, he can't be on the radio. He can't be assisting on [the show's website],' — 'til the whole thing blew over."

Former ALRA vice president George Ortiz also confirmed that the ALRA knew what Eliades had done and that there was talk about keeping him off the air, but he remembered that Eliades remained on the show anyway.

The anti-Pearce GOP Latino group Somos Republicans had exposed Eliades' involvement with the Cortes affair in September 2011, but the media never picked up on it.

No doubt any connection to the Cortes scandal would have been an embarrassment for the ALRA, which was supporting Pearce in the recall, with Torres actually speaking on Pearce's behalf at a poorly attended rally at Mesa's Hohokam Stadium in October.

Along these lines, before I spoke with Dawson, ALRA communications secretary Jose Borrajero claimed no knowledge of Eliades' work for Cortes.

But Borrajero's recollection of events seems shaky, considering his nervous, angry responses to my questions about him providing the voice in a strange round of robo-calls to constituents of the old Legislative District 18, where the Pearce-Lewis battle took place.

I blogged about the robo-calls just days before the election, noting that the unidentified voice and its robust Spanish accent sounded a lot like Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World." Or the late Ricardo Montalban.

The recorded calls to Democratic voters encouraged listeners to cast a "protest" write-in vote because Cortes had been forced to withdraw and the other two candidates also were Republicans.

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