Friday, December 31, 2004

Consultants' campaign tactics probed

Shady politics in Arizona? I don't believe it! *wink*
East Valley Tribune | Daily Arizona news for Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Mesa, ScottsdaleA half-dozen legislative candidates who knocked off Republican incumbents in September's primary election have two little-known political operatives from the East Valley to thank. Now, as those new lawmakers prepare to take their seats when the Legislature convenes in January, the two operatives are at the center of state investigations into possible voter disenfranchisement and violation of campaign finance laws. One of the new lawmakers could even face removal from office if found to have broken campaign laws. Constantin Querard and Chris Baker arguably affected the political bent of the next Legislature more than any other political figures. About half of their staunchly conservative candidates trounced moderate Republicans — lawmakers who had rebelled against GOP leadership to pass a budget written largely by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano. As a result, this Legislature will be one of the most conservative in recent years, which means tax cuts, restricting access to abortion and immigration-related policies will get a higher priority. Querard and Baker helped to craft themes about low taxation, responsible education spending and immigration control that were repeated from campaign to campaign. But some losing candidates as well as Republican officials see Querard and Baker as shadowy conspirators willing to bend or break state election laws to win. They say the pair manipulated campaign records and hid expenditures to help their candidates win in tough races.

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