Campaign Spending Triggers Probe

Group that endorsed Stubbs investigated for activities in Pinal County

Election 2012

Election 2012

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A group that has endorsed a local candidate for sheriff is now being investigated by the Gila County Attorney’s Office for potential campaign finance violations in Pinal County.

To avoid a possible conflict of interest, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office asked Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores to look into whether Southwest Border Sheriffs Association and Border Narcotic Intelligence have violated Arizona campaign-finance laws.

A complaint filed with the Pinal County elections department alleges the group is trying “to sway the constable election…by using less than legal and honorable means,” according to information obtained by the Arizona Republic.

The group allegedly bought campaign signs for a constable candidate in Pinal County.

Since the group is not a registered political committee and the candidate filed a report saying he would not spend or receive more than $500, critics have raised legal questions.

“The signs in question have ‘Paid for by Southwest Border Sheriffs’ at the bottom of the sign,” Flores said. “The issue is whether this is violation of our Arizona campaign finance laws for either this entity or the candidate.”

In Tuesday’s Roundup, Gila County Republican Sheriff candidate Darrell Stubbs ran a half-page advertisement touting Southwest Border Sheriffs Association and Border Narcotics Intelligence endorsements.

Stubbs said the group sought him out. When he met with leaders last week, he said they appeared credible.

The groups have not bought any of his campaign signs, Stubbs said.

No complaints have been filed with Gila County’s election department, said Linda Eastlick, elections director.

The identities of the members of the Southwest Border Sheriffs and Border Narcotics Intelligence remain unclear. Web sites for both groups post outside news stories and candidates’ press releases and endorsements, but little group information.

Border Narcotics Intelligence is reportedly a spinoff of Southwest Border Sheriffs, according to the Republic article.

In Stubbs’ ad, Border Narcotics Intelligence identifies itself as an organization “made up of men and women who have spent many years in the intelligence field and are very familiar with law enforcement and intelligence operations.”

Both groups say their mission is to follow and uphold the Constitution, according to Stubbs’ ad.

Flores said her office hopes to wrap up its investigation quickly.

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