- By Promise AZ in Action
- 5 October, 2011
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by Alia Beard Rau – Sept. 23, 2011 08:03 PM
The Arizona Republic
Chaos erupted Friday in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce.
A Legislative District 18 voter filed a lawsuit alleging that Olivia Cortes is a fraud candidate running with the intention of pulling votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis to help Pearce.
The Secretary of State’s Office declined to investigate the same complaint another district voter filed with that office.
Cortes, who has for weeks evaded questions about her candidacy and political positions, on Friday sent out an e-mail announcing a campaign Web site and seeking voter support.
Chandler attorney Tom Ryan filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mary Lou Boettcher. Ryan also represented Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that collected signatures to get the recall on the ballot. Boettcher, a Republican, was involved in that group.
The lawsuit alleges that Cortes is a “well-known supporter” of Pearce and “has no campaign committee, no volunteers for her campaign and her campaign is being financed and operated entirely by those who wish to dilute the vote in favor of recalled Senator Russell Pearce.” It states that Cortes is a fraudulent and diversionary candidate, in violation of state law.
Ryan said the intent of the lawsuit is to get Cortes off the ballot.
“There are laws enacted that you cannot in any way interfere with the free exercise of any voter,” he said. “You do not get to deceive voters.”
He said there is plenty of evidence to prove his allegation. He said media videos show that supporters of Pearce collected signatures to help get Cortes on the ballot.
“It could be that the judge turns me down, but I’ll get my day in court and the evidence will come out,” he said.
It will take a judge’s ruling to get Cortes removed from the ballot, according to the Maricopa County Elections Department. That’s essentially what the Secretary of State’s Office told another district voter Friday as well, in response to a complaint District 18 Democratic precinct committeeman Robert McDonald filed earlier in the week.
No government official has a role, or legal authority, to dictate how a candidate should conduct his or her campaign,” State Elections Director Amy Chanwrote in her response to McDonald.
Pearce has said he doesn’t know Cortes and had nothing to do with putting her on the ballot, but said others he knows could have.
Cortes has not responded to media requests for comment on the allegations or for more information about her political position.
On Thursday night, a group of District 18 residents convened on Cortes’ home to talk to her about her positions. She did not answer the door. It was unclear whether Cortes was at home.
“She wants to represent the community, well, I am the community,” Carmen Guerrero said. “Is she going to help us with jobs? What’s her position on education?”
Guerrero said she also wanted to question Cortes about her decision to use the United Farm Workers slogan “Si se puede” on her campaign signs.
“For the past 15 to 20 years I’ve been part of organizing Si se puede in my community,” she said. “I’ve never seen her.”
Guerrero said few Latinas have had “the courage” to run for public office in Mesa.
“My hat goes off to her,” she said. “But if I am going to vote for her, I need to know who she is and what she stands for.”
Cortes’ e-mail on Friday announced her campaign site, www.oliviacortes.com, and asked for donations and volunteers. Her site states that she supports “truth, justice and The American Way.” She wants to control the border more tightly and favors bringing more manufacturing jobs to the state.
Cortes on her site stated that she does not know her two opponents “at all” and is paying for her own campaign.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/09/23/20110923xgr-cortesdecision0924.html#ixzz1ZrlZ1Azr