Friday, February 4, 2011

Redistricting Update: Disclosure Problems for Rick Stertz?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic digs up some old legal problems that Rick Stertz, one of two candidates for the Independent Redistricting Commission, had back in the late ’80s:

A candidate on Senate President Russell Pearce's short list for a committee to redraw Arizona's political boundaries failed to disclose tax liens and court judgments against him, although such disclosure is required.

Rick Stertz, in his application for the Independent Redistricting Commission, indicated that he had paid all taxes when due and that he had no court judgments filed against him.

Records in Pima County show otherwise; there are at least four court cases in which judgments were filed against Stertz, as well as two federal tax liens.

Stertz on Thursday said he believed he filled out the application truthfully, noting that most of the cases date from a business failure in the late 1980s. The unpaid taxes and court judgment were against a commercial woodworking business in which he and his sister were stockholders, he said. Therefore, the liability was on the corporation, Badger Fixtures of AZ Inc., and not on him personally.

"I took personal responsibility for a corporate tax debt," he said, adding that he didn't need to take that extra step but felt it was the right thing to do.

Records show that the two liens, which totaled $161,412, were filed in 1989 and released five years later.

Read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, Tedski notes that Stertz is Republican Jesse Kelly's boss—and Kelly, who lost a close race to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords last year, is already plotting another run for Congress:

Even though we ask that appointees not be active politicians (two people were struck for non-partisan offices, for example), there is still a reality to deal with. You look for a Republican who would have the connections to serve on this committee, they are going to be anything but “neutral.” They are likely going to be close to people who have an interest in how these lines are drawn. Same with a Democrat. This is why both parties have equal representation on the committee.

Stertz is an amped up version of this, though. He isn’t just connected with someone that might run for congress. His friend Jesse Kelly is all but a declared candidate. The e-mails that went out talking of “unfinished business” and a planned-but-cancelled event at Skyline Country Club mean that he would be a candidate now except for the January 8th shootings. And Kelly is more than a friend: Kelly works for Vision 360, an Evangelical group that Stertz heads up.

It would be naïve to think that all of these appointees are going to be disintrested individuals only looking out for some amorphous “common good.” This is a political process, make no mistake. But we also ask for a certain amount of distance between appointees and candidates. Putting a guy who is keeping a candidate employed while he waits for the next election is no distance at all.

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