Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 15, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

SCA Political Contribution

  • Arizona Capitol Times Reporter Jim Small discusses the latest revelations about SCA, an unregistered political committee that contributed more than $100,000 to the Arizona Republican Party during the 2008 election season.
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Government

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," more on the names of donors who bought a controversial ad targeting sheriff Joe Arpaio's rival. Also we'll hear from Senator John McCain and his comments on health care reform at Phoenix children's hospital. And we'll visit a summer chess club where everyone is a winner. That's next on "Horizon." Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's attempt to obtain email records from county court officials and judges was shot down again today. The Arizona court of appeals had denied Arpaio's request for the email records, saying the request was too broad. Today a court official turned down another request for the records, citing the court of appeals' ruling. Joel Fox yesterday revealed the names of contributors to the sheriff's command association, a group that paid for a controversial ad targeting the sheriff's election opponent last year. Fox revealed the names while under the threat of a $315,000 fine. Among the contributors, valley developer Steve Ellman and several of the sheriff's own men, including top aide Dave Hendershott. Here to talk more about all of this is Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small. You've been on this story inform from the get-go. Very quickly, S.C.A., what is it?

Jim Small:
Basically, it was a group of people who pooled their money, sheriff's officers, a total of seven, six of them in the -- some of the higher echelons of command in the department. Along with Mr. Ellman and four other businessmen from across the country, all pooled together their money, the businessmen and Ellman together put in about $100,000 of what was a total of $112,000. So they bank rolled the vast majority.

Ted Simons:
This was supposed to be an independent expenditure committee, independent of sheriff Arpaio. Any connections?

Jim Small:
Obviously you've got the connection was his staff contributing to it and running it, frankly. The courts and the Maricopa County elections department determined this was a political committee that was what led to the threat of a fine. It's interesting to see who was involved with this, and really where this money came from. I think it had certainly people in political circles, they were waiting to find out who was on the list, and so now that it's revealed, it's really quite interesting.

Ted Simons:
And again, donated 100,000-plus to the G.O.P. before the election. G.O.P. gives it to the second group, second group does the ads, and then complaint is filed. Correct?

Jim Small:
Yeah. The complaint was filed, and then the Republican party went ahead and returned the money to this S.C.A. group. It's probably fair to note you can't draw a straight line from the money that S.C.A. gave to the Republican start party into those ads. It went into the general pot and it was several weeks before any money was taken out and funded for those ads, but without the S.C.A. money, the state party would have gone into a negative balance and wouldn't have been able to pay the cost it did at that time.

Ted Simons:
Why was Joel fox targeted?

Jim Small:
He was targeted because he was the only one that ever had contact with the Republican party on behalf of S.C.A. He opened the bank account, he signed the checks. So when the complaint was filed, the Republican Party, their response, they said, well, we talked to Joel fox. He's the only guy we had contact with. They provided information on that and then the investigation led to him.

Ted Simons:
And Steve Ellman, the developer, former park Coyote owner, $25,000, friend of Arpaio's?

Jim Small:
Yeah, a long-time friend and supporter, he's been referred to -- been around, had dinner with him, been referred to in some ways as an ad hoc advisor.

Ted Simons:
We've got a couple guys from Texas, one from Alaska, a sandwich shop owner from Illinois. Who are these folks?

Jim Small:
We're trying to figure out who they are and what the relationship is to either Sheriff Arpaio, the Republican party, or Steve Ellman. I think that seems to be the obvious connection. He's the local big businessman, and these are all big businessmen from around the country. One of them, who owns some aviation companies in Texas, he is actually a minority owner in the coyotes, owns 1% of the team. So there's a quick line to draw there. But I do think what's interesting to note is none of these gentlemen outside of Ellman had a connection to Republican politics, but as soon as the money from the Republican Party was returned to S.C.A., all of them except for one turned around and donated the same amount to the Republican party. So even though this $105,000 donation got returned, contribution got returned, within a matter of two weeks you had $90,000 of that right back in the party's coffers. It's really interesting. Now that we have the names, you can go back and look at financial -- campaign finance reports that were filed at the state level and also at the federal level. And really piece this together.

Ted Simons:
Where do we go from here? Is this pretty much closed now? Or does it have more things happening to it?

Jim Small:
I'm imagining there's going to be more that happens to it. At the very least people will try to figure out what relationship these folks have to Sheriff Arpaio, and what their interest was in this race.

Ted Simons:
Right now the sheriff says, these are folks working outside, an independent committee, I've got nothing to do with it, nothing to do with me.

Jim Small:
That's been his stance from the get-go. I imagine whether -- any stories continue to follow that angle, we'll -- will depend on what people uncover.

Ted Simons:
Great work on this, thanks so much for joining us.

Jim Small:
Thank you.

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