Antenori was angry that fellow Republican Doug Sposito and his allies were spending so much money that the Clean Elections candidates in the race--Sharon Collins and David Gowan--were getting a windfall in matching funds. As of last week, Gowan had received more than $38,000, while Collins had more than $32K.
Meanwhile, Antenori, who declined to participate in Clean Elections, has been struggling to raise private funds. His most recent report, filed last week, shows that he had collected just $15,669 for his campaign and had less than $2,200 left in the bank.
Antenori said Sposito had "obviously sold out" to Maricopa-based special interests that want to water down the employer-sanctions law with Stop Illegal Hiring, a ballot proposition that was originally launched to counter a more draconian employer-sanctions initiative being pushed by state Rep. Russell Pearce and his idiot pal, Don Goldwater. Those knotheads' initiative failed to make the ballot, and they are now complaining that Stop Illegal Hiring, which is supported by a group called Wake Up Arizona!, will water down the current state law.
Sposito, who supports Stop Illegal Hiring, told us that a July fundraising event in Phoenix sponsored by supporters of Wake Up Arizona! only raised him about $2,500. The big influx in money had come from his own pocket; he loaned his campaign $12,000.
The latest campaign-finance reports, filed last week, show that of the $27,785 Sposito had raised in the latest period, about $4,700 came from a variety of lawyers, lobbyists and other contributors in the Phoenix area, although he says that not all of it came as a result of the July event.
"The Phoenix fundraiser netted me exactly $2,015," Sposito now says. "The rest has been from people mailing me contributions--hearing about my campaign (and) reading about it in the newspapers, and checks are coming in."
The names of the heavy hitters with Wake Up Arizona!, such as McDonald's magnate Mac Magruder and political consultant Nathan Sproul, do not appear as contributors.
Antenori now says he "would not believe that Doug would be stupid enough to accept contributions from those kinds of controversial individuals, because it would crush him."
Sposito has received a $390 check from auto dealer Jim Click, who is also part of Wake Up Arizona! But so has Antenori, although he downplays its significance.
"If Click wanted to give me money, I'd be sitting on about $40,000 in cash right now," Antenori says. "So he sends me a $390 check--I didn't get a check from his wife, his kids, his uncle, his cousins, all these other folks. ... And that's just so he can say, 'Yeah, I support Frank.' Evidently, he does. He sent me a check. But he's not helping me. Not in the least bit. As a matter of fact, he's working against me, in my opinion."
Antenori's remarks in the Weekly got the attention of Pete Davis, a precinct committeeman who's well-connected in the Green Valley GOP circles and who had been supporting Antenori. Davis was so upset by Antenori's comments that he sent out an e-mail message denouncing Antenori and announcing that he was now supporting Collins and Sposito.
"I have been a supporter of Frank Antenori, and cannot tell you how disappointed I am in Frank's lack of judgment," Davis wrote. "I called Frank this morning and told him that I could no longer support his candidacy. I told him that I do not believe that he has a moral compass (or) the temperament to represent District 30."
Antenori has apologized to Gowan and Collins for telling us they were too stupid to be lawmakers (although, in Gowan's case, we tend to agree with Antenori's assessment). But he says he hasn't apologized to Sposito. He stands by his claim that Sposito embraced the Stop Illegal Hiring initiative after attending the Phoenix fundraiser.
Sposito says he has supported Stop Illegal Hiring throughout the campaign, although he hadn't spoken out about the initiative until Antenori made it an issue a few weeks ago.
One of Antenori's favorite targets: nonprofit groups that get money from the state.
"I think that if you're a charity, and you're a nonprofit, you should be funded on your own two feet," Antenori says. "You shouldn't be running to the Legislature and local government to fund your nonprofit. That tells me that your nonprofit sucks, and it wouldn't survive on its own, and you have to run to the government to keep it going."
It doesn't matter to Antenori whether we're talking about the Community Food Bank or Homicide Survivors, which provides financial and emotional support to family members of homicide victims.
"If they're a legitimate charity that serves a legitimate purpose ... then they would have no trouble raising private funding," Antenori says.
Cutting off all government funding would be a serious blow to Emerge!, a nonprofit that serves victims of domestic-violence, according to CEO Sarah Jones.
Jones estimates that the organization, which was formed by the recent merger of the Brewster Center and the Tucson Centers for Women and Children, gets about 65 percent of its funding from the government. About $1.6 million--or 40 percent of the overall budget--comes from the state, although some of that is federal funding that is passed through the state.
Losing that funding "would be absolutely devastating for the community," Jones says. "We provide funding for 2,500 women and children in this community who are leaving violent situations, and they leave with the clothes on their backs. These are people who are leaving their homes in the middle of the night fleeing an abusive situation, and have nowhere else to go."
That's what happened when former supervisor and Valadez supporter Dan Eckstrom approached Walt Pearson a couple of weeks ago to show him a campaign mailer that Robuck sent out earlier this month.
Pearson is president of Wholesale Lithographers, a union shop that prints a good portion of the election materials for local Democratic candidates. For Democrats, labor support remains of high importance, and showing your support through a union shop can be important to certain constituents.
A "union bug" published on campaign materials offers a way to identify what shop the stuff is from, and sometimes includes the city and state where the print shop is located, as well as a number. In Tucson, there are two union shops in town: Wholesale Lithographers and Old Pueblo Printers (owned by Supervisor Richard Elías' father). Wholesale's number, included on its bug, is 15.
When Valadez received Robuck's mailer, he noticed the quality wasn't that great, and that the union bug didn't show up properly. What showed up clearly, however, was the number 15--identifying it as Pearson's bug.
Pearson says he knew as soon as Eckstrom showed him the flier that it wasn't his work and that the bug was considered counterfeit. The mailing permit provided the information on who sent the campaign mailer--nonunion Innovative Mailing Services, owned by Rumaldo Moreno. The mailing house could be forced to pay a fine. Pearson says he understands that it could be three times what they made on the four-color project. Pearson called the Communications Workers of America Local 7026--the local union that licenses print shops in Tucson--and he understands the Pima County Democratic Party has been called, too. "It's just not wise to put something like this out, because everyone is pretty sensitive to it."
Pearson says he called Moreno about the mailing, and Moreno told him he didn't know the bug was attached to the file going out to a printer in California.
Robuck dismisses the mess as campaign mudslinging from Valadez. Robuck also says it was a mistake. He says the graphic designer working for his campaign forgot she had put the union bug on the mailer. Robuck says Moreno has apologized to Pearson for the mistake.
"This is a total misunderstanding," Robuck contends. "Look, it was a mistake. Why would we give our opponent something to hammer us with? ... Ramon is saying I did it on purpose. It's mudslinging."
Valadez, however, has had his share of attacks from Robuck, too--including complaints about South Tucson Mayor Jennifer Eckstrom working in Valadez's office, Valadez's alleged lack of response to constituent concerns and a lack of interest in Rosemont mine meetings.
Moreno, the mailing-house owner caught in the middle, shares Robuck's sentiment.
"I have never come across this before, ever," Moreno says. "It's never been an issue. I didn't review the artwork. Usually, I look for an address and specifications, like what kind of paper they want to use.
"I understand why Walt is mad. I understand they pay a lot of money to be able to be a union printer. On the other hand, it's important to realize that no malice was intended, (nor was it) an attempt to deceive anyone."
The use of union bugs is common information doled out at new-candidate classes given by the Pima County Democratic Party. Robuck says he never got a chance to go to one of those classes.
That, appears, was another big mistake by Robuck.