The above quote is from Tucson Weekly political writer Jim Nintzel describing the Arizona Daily Independent’s reporting in his “The Skinny” column of November 3. His article is yet another attack on Supervisor Ally Miller, and on Kim DeMarco, District 3 challenger to Supervisor Sharon Bronson. While this reporter is okay with reporters having opinions and expressing them – I do it myself – it crosses an ethical line when done at the behest of political cronies trying to influence an election to oust one of their employers, an elected supervisor.
Consider this December 5, 2015, email from Pima County Communications Director Mark Evans to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry about Miller’s opposition to paying hundreds of thousands more for a property purchase than an independent appraisal showed it was worth:
“I’ve held off posting replies on Miller’s Facebook page until this page was ready to go. Want to hit her with both at the same time since it’s sure to cause a reaction. (BTW, I told McNamara what we’re up to and he thinks it’s a story. So does Nintzel.)”
Huckelberry said, “Proceed.”
McNamara is then-Arizona Daily Star reporter Patrick McNamara who now works for Evans in the Pima County Communications Department. Nintzel is the above-quoted Jim who seems to be an attack dog for the Huckelberry cabal.
ADI also ran another story based on a different county email, this one from Huckelberry to his Executive Assistant, Nicole Fyffe: “Please attend all of Supervisor Ally Miller’s future town halls to obtain copies of the information she is presenting to the public. Also, please video record these meetings….”
Arizona Revised Statutes 11-410 prohibits county funds, including staff time, from being used to influence elections. “A county shall not spend or use its resources, including the use or expenditure of monies, accounts, credit, facilities, vehicles, postage, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, web pages, personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or any other thing of value, for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections…Employees of a county shall not use the authority of their positions to influence the vote or political activities of any subordinate employee.”
That statute was cited in a November 3 Arizona Daily Star article by Caitlin Schmidt. Her article was about an anonymous complaint alleging that Sheriff Chris Nanos violated the statute by using county photographs in his campaign ads. That is now being investigated by the county’s Elections Department. The article says that if Director Brad Nelson finds “reasonable cause” he will turn it over to the County Attorney’s office. Schmidt notes that the County Attorney is likely to recuse herself due to “conflict of interest.” She also quotes Huckelberry as saying he didn’t have a problem with the photos.
Queries to the County Attorney from me on behalf of the Avra Valley Coalition about the Huckelberry-Evans emails, were brushed aside as being a “conflict of interest” and referred to the Arizona Attorney General’s office. That office has not responded to queries except to tell us that the emails are “not a formal complaint.” Those issues have also now been directed to the Pima County Elections Department.
After reading the Nanos story a copy of the ADI email stories was sent to Star “Watchdog” reporter Schmidt who said she passed it on to their county reporter. It remains to be seen if they actually do anything with them.
Jim Nintzel, meanwhile, spent two columns attacking anti-Bronson campaign ads, but uses just one sentence to acknowledge that “legendary land speculator Don Diamond (is) spending six figures on a campaign to support Bronson.”
So much for balanced journalism. As for those improper county emails attacking an elected supervisor, 19th Century muckraker Henry Demarest Lloyd once said, “Only the rich can get justice; the poor cannot escape it.” Especially in Pima County.
Note: This article was not suggested, requested, ordered, directed, solicited, bought, or discussed with anyone before it was written by me. Any “innuendo, plagiarism, fabrication, gossip and general bullshit” is in the mind of the beholder.