Early yesterday, the Schweikert campaign breathlessly sent out an email press release, touting a police report in Tempe concerning a Tempe resident who "pushed down" two anti-Mitchell signs.
The one piece of truth? Such an incident did, in fact, occur, at least according to this police report (courtesy the Arizona Capitol Times).
After that, the press release gets more than a little light on facts.
The press release starts by conflating this incident with a 2000 incident where Mitchell was accused of stealing some signs.
The press release pontificates on that one with "[t]here was no question that Congressman Mitchell broke the law then."
The problem with that?
The charges were dismissed, and that dismissal was upheld on appeal. No matter how often Rs like to bring up the incident from 2000, they always seem to forget to mention that a judge ruled that no crime occurred.
Call this one the "half-truth, barely" part.
The press release then goes on to include a picture of some signs with "the kind of damage that has been occurring."
The problem with that?
The picture included in the press release wasn't of the signs that were part of the incident detailed in the police report. It was of some of the unsightly "insult" signs that Schweikert has carpetbombed CD5 with. The pic looks to have been staged in a parking lot, perhaps outside of Schweikert's campaign headquarters (I don't actually know where it was staged, just that it definitely looks staged).
Call this one the "spun into an outright lie" part, but at least it gave them an excuse to push their lies about Harry Mitchell one more time.
The Arizona Capitol Times has a story up that refutes the Schweikert campaign's spin and press release.
In it, the writer points out that neither the alleged "damager" nor the complainer involved in the incident are directly involved in either the Mitchell or the Schweikert campaigns other than in expressing support for the respective candidates. Speaking personally, I've been a frequent visitor to the Mitchell campaign office in Tempe, and I've never heard of the man accused of damaging the signs.
The Schweikert supporter, however, is a somewhat different story.
I've never heard of him by name, but he is quoted in the police report saying that he "has a company called Jet Media."
The Cap Times' story quotes Jim Torgeson, the owner of Jet Media, as claiming that the signs weren't commissioned by the Schweikert campaign.
From the story -
"But Jet Media owner Jim Torgeson said that Sanders’ signs were not commissioned by the Schweikert campaign, and that they personally belonged to Sanders, not the company."That opens up a big can of worms for the Schweikert campaign.
The press release claims very specifically that the signs involved in the Tempe incident *are* the property of the Schweikert campaign.
From the press release -
"The signs in question are the property of David Schweikert’s campaign."That's pretty unequivocal.
It also means that someone is violating campaign finance laws.
Either the complainer owns them and is engaging in political advocacy without filing campaign finance paperwork with the AZ Secretary of State (which he hasn't), or Schweikert owns them and needs to put the appropriate "paid for by" on the signs (which he hasn't, apparently, because there isn't one on the signs.)
Other issues -
Mr. Torgeson is a Republican operative of long standing, using his sign company to harass Democratic candidates in Tempe for years now.
Mr. Torgeson's company, Jet Media, received over $7400 worth of sign business from the Schweikert campaign just between late August and late September, according to Schweikert's FEC filings. I don't know if the signs that the Schweikert campaign purchased from Torgeson were the ones involved in the above incident, but that's a lot of money going to a small sign company relatively late in the cycle.
Mr. Torgeson is listed with the Arizona Corporation Commission as President of Jet Media Promotions, Inc. That corporation was administratively dissolved by the ACC earlier this year because of its failure to file an annual report. Not sure how/if that impacts the legal operation of the sign business, but it's definitely sloppy on Mr. Torgeson's part.
Still, given that we are now less than five days from Election Day, this is just a meaningless distraction. Any proceedings stemming from the above incident will take weeks or even months to run to completion; any possible campaign finance violations could take *years* to resolve.
Time to do a little canvassing.