Jun 122013
 

Risner

J.T. Waldron

For the past seven years, Pima County used every conceivable legal maneuver to evade a simple audit and forensic exam of the 2006 RTA ballots. It’s time to abandon formalities and refer to this two billion dollar bond election for what it is: a fraud perpetrated by the County against the people.

Like the scandals we are inundated with on a national level, the hard lessons learned involve judicial corruption, selective justice and complicit media. “Operation Fast and Furious”, NSA surveillance and the National Defense Authorization Act caused the nation to witness a compliant judiciary, a retaliatory justice department, and a collaborative press. Regardless of how offensive or outrageous these crimes become, the nation remains in a state of stagnation or paralysis unable to restore any semblance of law and order. In Pima County, Arizona, citizens remain in a stupor as they watch the continued destruction and construction of roads and infrastructure funded by a regressive half percent sales tax that was likely never approved by the electorate.

In the past seven years, we’ve watched Pima County’s Superior Courts rule in direct opposition to the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions, refuse to comply with the appellate court ruling and deny requests that Pima County follow existing election laws.

You might remember when Superior Court Judge Kyle Bryson ruled in defiance of the Appellate court, claiming there was no jurisdiction to provide prospective relief for rigged elections.

As a result, the Libertarian Party was forced to make the same appeal with the same arguments to the same appellate court.  Apparently, Pima County was not comfortable with that same argument being made to the same appellate court.  In a convoluted series of events, Pima County advocates succeeded in gaming the system and forcing a change in the venue.  By producing an amicus curiae brief through Republican party operatives, they managed to involve Sean Brearcliffe, a lawyer who was waiting to be selected by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as a Superior Court judge.  An amicus brief is a vehicle by which representatives of special interest groups are able to express opinions on matters before the Court.  It’s never required by the Court, but is a voluntary option.  Looking at the substance and timing of this brief, it’s clear that the intent of exercising this option was to force a change of venue for the upcoming appellate court decision in this case.

Sean Brearcliffe’s law firm, “Rusing, Lopez & Lizardi, PLLC”, recently acquired J. William Brammer, Jr. as a partner.  Brammer served as an appellate court judge in Division Two until his recent retirement.   Due to his law firm’s connection to Division Two’s appellate court, Brearcliffe’s involvement with this amicus brief created a conflict of interest and forced a move from Division Two  (where the appellate court judges ruled in favor of prospective relief) to Division One.  Brearcliffe received  his appointment and is now a Superior Court judge.

In Division One, the case will be met with a whole new set of judges.

This could be history’s most contrived conflict of interest and serves as a reminder that somebody is truly sweating a forensic exam of the RTA ballots.  If the state’s Attorney General was willing to do the dance, should we be surprised to find a new Superior Court judge directly involved with this disco?   Let’s face it.  Election integrity and Pima County’s Superior court judges just don’t mix.  Let’s assume Maricopa’s appellate court suddenly decides that  Arizona’s reputation as the “Methlab of Democracy” is unbecoming and they rule in favor of prospective relief in rigged elections just like Pima County’s appellate courts.  Do you think Pima County’s Superior Court judges will abide by that decision?   AUDIT AZ ‘s John Brakey would like to find out.

“Is this how judges are made? They have to prove their worth to the puppet masters?  If we lose this appeal, the argument that Pima County and now the Republican Party is making about the finality of an election is much more important than stopping cheating in the future, will be locked into law,” Brakey said. “No candidate of any party will be able to ever challenge an election,” which Brakey states is basically the case already, but now would be sanctioned by the courts.

The substance of the brief approved by those claiming to be in charge of the Republican party is almost diversionary in its bizarre statements.  They spend a great deal of time arguing that repeated cheating is less important than the “finality” of elections.  That is quite an endorsement of Pima County by the Republican party especially when Pima County’s bureaucrats are more closely aligned with elected officials dominated by Democrats.  Since Arizona is a party oversight state for elections, the ‘finality argument’ created by the Republican party inadvertently suggests that the Republican party would prefer to relinquish its power to oversee elections in favor of supporting the finality of the vote.  It’s little wonder that Karen Shutte, the Chairman of the Republican Election Integrity Committee, resigned shortly after the brief was filed.  It’s important to note  that a number of familiar Republicans known for transcending partisan politics on behalf of election integrity were not involved in this amicus brief.

The state’s organizing body claiming to serve justice in Arizona treated Pima County much the same way Eric Holder coddled megabank HSBC.  After admitting that he was aware that Pima County managed to access evidence in violation of a court order, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard refused to perform a forensic exam to make sure Pima County didn’t access the ballots during the years leading up to his investigation.  In fact, Goddard’s possession of the ballots (without allowing party oversight of the chain of custody), involved merely counting the ballots to determine if the figure was close to the tabulated 2006 election result.  A rudimentary audit characteristic of a white collar investigation comparing one set of numbers to another was certainly possible but refused by Arizona’s Department of Justice.

Poll tapes stored with the ballots could have served this auditing function.  They were also handy for detecting electronic fraud involving the memory cards from which these poll tapes are printed.  Goddard refused to examine the poll tapes despite requests by the Democratic party and a number of election integrity advocates.  One year later, the Democratic party was finally able to find out why.  Upon gaining access, they discovered that 44% of the poll-tapes were missing or didn’t match the final database and they happen to be closely matching the precincts suspected of foul play in the electronic data records.

What qualifies as more than just circumstantial evidence?  Let’s consider DNA samples in a murder case.  Whenever a DNA match is presented to the courts, prosecutors inform the jury about the probability of such a match occurring.

Why does it seem like only a pipe dream that someone may testify about the probability for the same precincts experiencing the same associated memory card errors correlating to the same missing poll tapes?  Statements claiming a lack of evidence for a crime are false claims by those who may be considered accessories after the fact.

The Republican party’s amicus brief states “there is no competent evidence that there was anything illegal or inappropriate done with regard to any of the 2006 elections in issue.”  One test of whether a judge is compromised or not is to see if he recognizes this statement as perjury.  Legal violations surrounding the RTA election have already been established in the courts.  Printing summary reports during elections is against the law.  The printing of such reports was indicated in electronic data files admitted as evidence in a previous court case.

Electronic data files containing details of this crime were first recovered in the exchange after the Democratic Party won the records lawsuit.  More detailed records remained in Pima County’s court vault until ten months later, when Pima County contractor John Moffatt somehow managed to obtain access to the remaining electronic data in violation of a court order.   Ironically, this violation was another unlawful act surrounding the 2006 RTA election.  In reality, this case is unique with the amount of evidence indicating that the 2006 RTA election was rigged.   There is a simplified RTA Fraud Flyer covering the basics and a more detailed “Statement of Facts” indicating what the Libertarian party intends to present if they receive a favorable ruling by one of the new judges in the upcoming appellate court decision.

Local media reaction to this crime has proven to be almost as scandalous as the crime itself.   We have provided past coverage showing how Pima County’s PR department uses taxpayer’s money to soak up employment slack as local media outlets shed their workforce in a failing local economy.  This results in reporters letting fear of retaliation and diminishing job prospects undermine critical coverage of the local RTA election.

The extent of public misdirection over the RTA election is best illustrated by the local weekly that actually claims to be independent and intent on informing the public with alternative news.  The Tucson Weekly’s editorial director at the time, Jim Boegle, published columns making dubious statements about a lack of evidence and chastising any public figure who suggested that the RTA election was rigged.

Their star political reporter, Jim Nintzel, actively sold the RTA plan to the public both before and after the plan had passed.  Nintzel’s primary strategy was to dismiss all evidence of fraud by drawing the public’s attention to a set of opinion polls.  Prior to our conducting a videotaped interview of pro-RTA advocate Steve Farley, Nintzel would pass along a copy of these polls hoping they would influence our discourse.  The polls were commissioned by an advertising agency called “Zimmerman and Associates”, a firm hired to promote approval of the RTA plan.

Zimmerman and Associate’s work included television commercials showing Steve Farley attempting to cross a busy intersection, an ambulance driver indicating how his precious cargo would continue to suffer if the RTA didn’t pass and a cluster of City and County employees pretending to voluntarily and spontaneously scream “Yes” in favor of the plan.   Bill Risner, the attorney representing the Democratic party during the RTA records lawsuit, spoke with a colleague who shared office space on the same floor of the Pioneer Hotel.  This colleague was involved with bundling the money from contributors for the RTA plan and passing the money onto the vendors.  He was complaining to Risner  about the  pro-RTA group’s last minute scramble to obtain more funds due to claims that polls are indicating that the RTA election is too close to call.

The circumstances leading up to the election were truthfully related by the actual money handler for the RTA, but no hard copy of the polls prompting this last minute scramble ever surfaced.  As a result,  Nintzel adopted a strategy to discredit election integrity advocates by using a strawman technique which attempts to dismiss the more valid evidence by placing emphasis on this perceptively weaker link.

Zimmerman and Associates were the only organization that paid for opinion polling for the RTA election.  Was the public privy to all the polling information provided to Zimmerman and Associates?  Opinion polling has only peripheral relevance to the rest of the evidence indicating election fraud, but for those choosing to ignore all the other evidence to place so much emphasis on Zimmerman and Associate’s opinion polls, it’s only fair to present this account by Carolyn Campbell, the environmental activist working on the pro-RTA campaign:

Would we have realized how overtly biased Nintzel’s reporting was without the ill-conceived decision to place the reference to polling among the eighteen various points surrounding the RTA election?   Probably not.  Months later,  watchful eyes did discover that Jim Nintzel’s brother Doug Nintzel was the chief spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), a stakeholder in the RTA election.  Some of the weakest moments for the Tucson Weekly can be found in the bottom of a 2008 Time Initiative article where the comments thread sheds light on this potential conflict of interest.

Would election integrity activists have the opportunity to see just how far Pima County was willing to go to avoid transparency if they allowed Attorney General Terry Goddard’s recount to dissuade them?   Probably not.  Unfortunately for election integrity advocates, the opportunity to conduct a real investigation of the RTA ballots was a secondary goal.  The most important accomplishment behind this pursuit was to prevent cheating in future elections.  This case had implications for both Pima County and the rest of the country.

It appears for now that citizens will not be able to vote in the United States with confidence in an accurate outcome.  Pima County advocates gaming the system to change the venue of the appellate court decision from Pima County to Maricopa County know integrity will likely be abandoned.  There is some satisfaction, however, in watching Pima County jump through all these hoops just to avoid a simple investigation.  No doubt the cost of cheating was certainly raised in this instance.

Obviously, Pima County’s efforts to prevent this litigation from proceeding would not be needed if the 2006 RTA election was not rigged.  If the RTA was not rigged, Pima County only needed to make the effortless gesture of allowing a simple audit and forensic exam of the RTA ballots.  Nothing undermines the legitimacy of elections more than way Pima County reacts to scrutiny.

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Feb 062013
 

AZStarnet

Arizona Death Row Inmates

Jason Bush was given a death sentence in Pima County Superior Court.

Arizona Death Row Inmates

Shawna Forde was sentenced to death in the killing of an Arivaca girl and her dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the FBI by a former Arivaca woman who lost her youngest daughter and husband during a May 2009 home invasion.

Last May, Gina Gonzalez sued the federal government saying an FBI agent was aware members of a militia group were planning to raid her home, but the agent failed to notify the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Had the sheriff’s department known about the plot, a deputy could have arrested two of the three future perpetrators when he encountered them just a few days before they carried out their plan, the lawsuit alleged.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Zipps agreed with defense attorneys, who said the agency was exempt from litigation because the agent used his discretion under FBI policy.

“We’re disappointed and we plan to appeal,” said Gonzalez’ attorney, Thomas Cotter. He declined to comment further.

On May 30, 2009, Raul Junior Flores, 29, let Shawna Forde and Jason Bush into his home when they knocked on his door and claimed they were U.S. Border Patrol agents looking for fugitives.

Within minutes, Bush shot and killed Raul Flores, shot and wounded Gonzalez and then shot their youngest daughter, Brisenia, as the 9-year-old begged for her life.

As Gonzalez pretended to be dead, Bush, Flores and Albert Gaxiola ransacked the house looking for drugs and money, but left with just a few pieces of jewelry.

All three were tried separately in Pima County Superior Court in 2011 and convicted. Forde, 45, and Bush, 38, are on Arizona’s death row. Gaxiola, 45, is serving a no-parole life term.

Forde intended to use the proceeds of the home invasion to fund Minutemen American Defense, the militia she formed, prosecutors alleged.

Colorado bounty hunter, Minuteman and FBI informant Robert Copley testified he met with Forde at an Aurora, Colo. truck stop two weeks before the slayings. During that meeting, Forde wanted to know if he and his buddies were interested in robbing a drug cartel “staging area,” according to court testimony and Gonzalez’ lawsuit.

Copley met with his FBI handler after the meeting, told him of the plot and gave him a map of the area where the Flores’ home was located. The agent gave the map to agents in the Phoenix FBI office, but it was lost.

Gonzalez’ lawsuit maintained the FBI agents were required to tell local law enforcement about the planned crime.

Gonzalez and her eldest daughter, who was at her grandparents the night of the murders, have since moved from Arivaca.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

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Nov 112009
 
This is shocking courtroom footage of a Maricopa County detention officer snooping through a defense attorney’s file at a sentencing hearing. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department detention officer Adam Stoddard takes a piece of paper from the middle of the attorney’s file and hands it off to another officer while the defense attorney, Joanne Cuccia, has her back to them. The only witnesses (aside from the stunned defendant) were the judge and the prosecutors. As well as being an in-your-face violation of attorney-client privilege, Officer Stoddard has committed crimes plural, starting with theft. It’s not too surprising to see the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department officers act like the law does not apply to them. After all, this is the law enforcement body, under the guidance of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and AG Terry Goddard, that transported the ballots out of Pima County and “secured” them for several weeks at an undisclosed location. Still think the RTA election was clean?

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Oct 022009
 

Tucson’s upcoming election this November 3rd includes Proposition 200, which would amend Tucson’s Charter to mandate 2.4 police officers per 1000 people.

Every crime scene in Tucson seems to have an abundance of cops stumbling over each other. Just outside my place today are two officers for a cosmetic fender-bender. Most of the devices designed to squeeze revenue out of it’s citizens are running full tilt. Parking two feet outside a designated parking area for 6 hours will guarantee a $300.00 ticket. A thorough study by the Federal Department of Transportation concluded that excessive speeds account for 5% of traffic fatalities. Despite this relatively small contribution to traffic fatalities, traffic schools are bursting at the seems with citizens chucking revenue for excessive speeds in areas containing ridiculous speed limits. People are being pulled over for making left-hand turns and simultaneously changing lanes with no traffic in sight. Many sleepless nights are caused by choppers flying overhead in the university areas to bust keg parties. Advertised teen hip-hop parties have been known to draw as many as 25 cop cars to one scene – with no laws broken. Police failing to make their case for pulling someone over will find things like cracked windshields and, if you can’t afford to repair them, the city yanks your license. Bicycle cops, with nothing better to do, drift past houses with stereo’s playing to bust people for possession of marijuana. For those not living inside of the gated communities or “the Foothills”, cops are everywhere and, except for the rare occasions when they are actually needed, create more hazardous, stressful conditions for those who live in the city. Do “Prop 200” advocates think they can fund their proposal by squeezing more revenue out of the already gutted, less affluent population?