Vince Rabago was invited to speak to the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson on February 16th 2013 to discuss criminal justice sentencing reform which can save taxpayer money and keep our communities safe. On Vince’s left is LWVGT President Phylis Carnahan. Thank you League of Women Voters & former legislator Marion Pickens for the invitation to discuss these issues!
Rabago calls the alleged unregulated corporate political activity the “toxic byproduct of Citizens United and Karl Rove-style politics.”
An independent news story has added fuel to the election complaint filed last Friday, October 26, 2012, against alleged illegal coordination and secret, corporate “dark” money being spent in a local county election in Pima County, Arizona. County Supervisor candidate Sharon Bronson filed the complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State in an effort to fight “secret” corporate money flowing into her race from outside the state, in violation of various Arizona laws, including alleged corporate criminal activity.
It appears to be the first media reported instance of “dark” money being spent in a local, down-ballot race by an alleged non-profit corporation which claims to be a tax exempt business entity under federal I.R.S. laws in order to avoid disclosing any of its donors.
A story published late Friday, October 26, 2012, by an independent online news source, TucsonSentinel.com, revealed stunning newly disclosed facts in the saga, apparently detailing a coordinated employment shell game by the political consulting company for the purported “independent campaigns” with their alleged “former” employee working on the opposing candidate’s campaign, while still working for consulting company and owner.
All of this was apparently occurring after the consulting company supposedly stopped working for the candidate to work for the purported “independent” campaign spending sums of “dark” corporate money from the out-of-state company backed by secret donors.
In addition, the reporter for the Tucson Sentinel has uncovered other facts which further demonstrate the lack of independence, including the fact that the consulting company for the alleged independent campaign is still the registered owner of the opposing candidate’s campaign website, and is also listed as the administrative and technical contact for the candidate’s website.
The election complaint builds on details investigated and reported previously by Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly, as reported here, and raises additional issues.
The article on the TucsonSentinel website, reproduced below, is accompanied by television video links to related television coverage on the Friday Political Roundtable segment of the Arizona Illustrated news show, produced by Arizona Public Media. The article and links are available online at the following link: http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/102612_tanner_bell/dems-allege-gop-supes-candidate-bell-got-illegal-campaign-help/
TucsonSentinel.com – independent non-profit online news
Dems allege GOP supes candidate Bell got illegal campaign help
Updated Oct 26, 2012, 6:38 pm Originally posted Oct 26, 2012, 5:23 p
Dylan Smith TucsonSentinel.com
Tanner Bell, a Republican candidate for the Pima County Board of Supervisors, has benefited from improper coordination between political consultants and campaign committees, a complaint filed Friday by incumbent Democrat Sharon Bronson alleged.
The complaint, sent to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett and other officials, asked for an investigation into Bell’s campaign, the “independent expenditure” committee Restoring Pride in Pima County, the nonprofit business league Arizonans for a Brighter Future, and TagLine Media Group, an advertising and political consulting firm.
Bell, who’s seeking to end Bronson’s 16-year tenure as a county supervisor for District 3, has benefited from what Democratic attorney Vince Rabago called “not just normal political shenanigans,” Democrats said.
Rabago, who prepared the 13-page complaint for Bronson’s campaign, said Friday that Bell has been helped by “outside dark money, and unregulated political committee activity.”
Bronson’s campaign manager, David Steele, said Bell has benefited from at least $23,000 spent by outside groups in support of his run for office. That was for just one TV ad buy, Steele said, saying there have been other ads and mailers as well.
“The claims are baseless,” Bell said Friday afternoon, calling the complaint “a politically motivated, last-ditch effort to keep Sharon in office for 20 years.”
Calls to Michael Farley, a developer who founded Arizonans for a Brighter Future, were not returned Friday.
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Deb Weisel, the owner of TagLine, dismissed the complaint.
“You can file a lawsuit against anyone you want,” she said Friday afternoon. “There isn’t a campaign that goes by that the Democrats don’t file a lawsuit or complaint.”
“We’re honest to a fault,” Weisel said, describing her firm as “just a vendor.”
“It’s like if we were a mailing house. Would it be wrong for the committee to use the same mailing house as Tanner?,” she said.
TagLine was the subject of election-related complaints filed earlier this year by Republican candidates Mike Hellon and Stuart McDaniel and Democratic candidate Nancy Young-Wright.
The complaint filed by Bronson alleged that:
- TagLine Media stopped working on Bell’s campaign earlier this year to work for two pro-Bell groups, Arizonans for a Brighter Future and Restoring Pride in Pima County, violating laws that prohibit coordination between candidates and independent committees.
- Bell owes over $3,700 to TagLine for prior work, which the complaint said means his campaign is not independent from the other groups the firm is working for, and that the extension of credit is an illegal campaign contribution.
- Bell’s failure to report the extension of credit as a contribution, despite the debt being listed on election filings, violates campaign finance laws.
- Arizonans for a Brighter Future, which is incorporated in Delaware as a nonprofit 501c6 trade group, has violated Arizona laws by not registering to do business and not registering to solicit contributions in the state.
- That ABF has violated federal law by focusing solely on supporting political candidates.
- Restoring Pride in Pima County has not followed election law by failing to inform Bronson when sending our direct mail pieces naming her.
“The campaigns are not independent (as required by law),” Rabago said in an interview.
“Money spent by purportedly independent election committees is an in-kind contribution (to Bell),” he said.
Bell said he’s had “absolutely zero” contact with TagLine since they dropped him as a client to work for Arizonans for a Brighter Future. He also said he’s had no contact with the organizers of that group.
“I’ve met (Michael Farley) maybe once,” he said. Bell said he didn’t know why Farley’s group was spending tens of thousands to support him, as the Democrats contend. Trade groups are allowed to spend money on lobbying, and a limited amount on candidates, but can’t legally focus on supporting or defeating individual candidates without violating tax laws.
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Arizonans for a Brighter Future has not disclosed its donors.
Bell acknowledged owing money to TagLine, saying he’s working to pay down the debt. He said he’s had no contact with Weisel since TagLine stopped working on his campaign.
“Owing me money and me doing work for (Bell) are two very different things,” Weisel said. “You know how it can be, trying to get people to pay you.”
“It is what it is,” Weisel said of the complaint. “I don’t call the shots.”
While Bell said the investigation request is “last-ditch,” Rabago and Steele denied that the complaint is an “October Surprise.”
“Putting all the stuff together took time,” Rabago said.
“It was filed when it was ready,” Steele said in a Friday interview.
“The amount of coordination between the independent committees and the campaign itself is extraordinary in my view,” Steele said.
“It’s ham-handed and just wrong,” he said, calling the alleged efforts by the groups “an attempt to evade election laws.”
“If our elected officials took this stuff seriously, they’d get involved,” Steele said. “But election laws and disclosure laws are not sexy stuff.”
Rabago called the alleged activity the “toxic byproduct of Citizens United and Karl Rove-style politics.”
“For democracy to work, everyone has to play by rules,” Bronson, said in a news release. ‘We cannot allow these shady groups and their big money backers to skirt the law. I am happy to do my part to see that they are stopped.’
The legal complaint didn’t include all of the connections between Bell and TagLine.
An “organizational chart” released Friday by the Pima County Democratic Party detailed the alleged relationships between the subjects of the complaint (see image in sidebar). The chart included an allegation that a TagLine employee, Christina Cruz, is being “laundered” through another company Weisel owns while she works on Bell’s campaign.
Cruz, who some Democrats have described as now “working as the manager of the Vote Tanner Bell Campaign,” worked on Bell’s campaign for TagLine.
Cruz, who did not respond to a request for comment, is no longer an employee of TagLine, Weisel said. Instead, she works for car audio installer The Specialists — a business co-owned by Weisel and her husband.
Weisel said she doesn’t know much about what she described as “my husband’s business,” but said that Cruz “does social media for some of my clients, mainly for The Specialists.”
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Weisel said that Cruz doesn’t do political work for Bell “on the Specialists’ clock.”
Bell said that Cruz “isn’t my campaign manager, Sherry Potter is.” Cruz “does some social media stuff for us, Facebook, etc.,” he said.
Bell’s most recent campaign finance statement included $500 paid directly to Cruz for consulting work.
Another Internet-related connection between Bell and TagLine is his campaign website. Weisel is listed on Internet whois records as the administrative and technical contact for votetannerbell.com. TagLine is listed as the registrant.
Internet regulations require domain registration records to be kept up to date.
“I’m not 100 percent sure about the technical stuff,” Bell said. “I know we can update the site without contacting (TagLine). Beyond that, I’m unsure about those issues.”
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Former Assistant Attorney General Vince Rabago is asking the Arizona Secretary of State to shine a light on ‘dark money’ — from corporate outsiders — trying to undermine local politics in Arizona by spending money in violation of laws intended to provide transparency and independence in campaign financing. “These serious and flagrant violations by outside ‘dark money’ groups are an unlawful attempt to influence this election,” said Rabago, a former state prosecutor. It’s a toxic byproduct of the Citizens’ United decision and Karl Rove style politics. Arizona has laws to prevent this. We are asking the Secretary of State to enforce those laws and protect our cherished democratic right of a free and fair election.”
A copy of the Complaint that was filed regarding a Pima County Supervisor race in Tucson, Arizona, can be seen here: TANNER BELL Campaign Finance Complaint – FINAL
Tune your television today Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, to KGUN 9 in Southern Arizona at 4 p.m., to watch an important documentary by nationally recognized investigative reporter John Dougherty about Cyanide Beach and the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine, and the history of the corporate officials behind the proposal. Our office represented the non-profit Save the Scenic Santa Ritas in filing regulatory complaints to the SEC, Canadian stock regulators, and Arizona officials about concealment of corporate and other bankruptcies and other required information by the main players in this saga. More information here. http://www.scenicsantaritas.org/events
Arizona Case Raises Allegations Similar To Those in U.S. Dept. Of Justice Fair Lending Lawsuit And Settlement Announced In July Of 2012
(Tucson, AZ – 9/14/2012). Wells Fargo Bank NA and its Arizona subsidiary were served this week with a lawsuit filed by former Arizona prosecutor Vince Rabago for taking unfair advantage of an unsophisticated Hispanic borrower in Arizona. Similar practices are the subject of a national lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice and a proposed 175 million dollar settlement announced earlier this year in July, 2012. The new lawsuit, filed in a pending Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, is the first in Arizona alleging a pattern of discrimination similar to that alleged in the national case filed by U.S. prosecutors.
Many Americans are familiar with the subprime mortgage lending practices which contributed to the meltdown of our economy in 2008. Using tactics ranging from concealment or deception to outright forgery, mortgage lenders gave loans to home buyers at an unprecedented rate, then bundled and sold those debts to other companies, often placing the loans into risky investment devices on Wall Street that contributed to the meltdown. Many loans were “subprime” because of onerous, costly terms and banks knew that there was a high risk the borrowers would not be able to make the payments over time.
Both lawsuits claim Wells Fargo intentionally focused on Hispanic borrowers. The U.S. DOJ lawsuit alleged that the bank steered Hispanic and African American borrowers into subprime loans when they qualified for prime loans with lower interest rates, or charged excessive fees. The proposed 175 million dollar settlement with the DOJ is pending court approval and agrees to stop alleged discriminatory practices and to compensate alleged victims: http://www.justice.gov/crt/spec_topics/wellsfargo/.
The Arizona lawsuit, among other things, alleges that Wells Fargo told the uneducated non-English speaking Hispanic citizen one thing in Spanish, but another in English documents. The lawsuit alleges the bank tricked the borrower into believing he was obtaining two separate loans, when in reality the bank deceived him into signing documents for one loan secured by two properties in order to obtain his mother’s home, which he owned free and clear at the time. The lawsuit also alleges Wells Fargo aided and abetted their Arizona subsidiary in originating such predatory loans using a state mortgage license in an apparent effort to evade review by federal regulators, and later shut down operations in 2008, the year after the loans were made in 2007. The lawsuit alleges Wells Fargo recently filed a manipulated false document in the bankruptcy case in an effort to conceal the prior deceptive lending.
Vince Rabago, a former state prosecutor with experience in state and national consumer fraud cases and a reputation for taking on the payday loan industry in Arizona, is representing Miguel R. Romo, the plaintiff/borrower. Rabago said, “The alleged discriminatory and predatory lending by Wells Fargo Bank and their Arizona subsidiary is completely unacceptable. The new lawsuit brought against Wells Fargo and its Arizona subsidiary was under investigation by my office before federal prosecutors announced their lawsuit and proposed settlement, so it was good to get independent validation of the conduct alleged in our lawsuit. We look forward to obtaining justice and obtaining additional evidence of the alleged discrimination and predatory tactics from Wells Fargo during the discovery process.”
The complaint is available here. The case is Miguel R. Romo v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., and Wells Fargo Financial Arizona, Inc., Case No. 4:12-ap-01582 JMM (and was filed in pending Chapter 13 bankruptcy case 4:12-bk-11796). The U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit and settlement is filed and pending approval in United States of America v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., in U.S. Dist. Court, District of Columbia, in Case No. 1:12-cv-01150.
Consumer protection and bankruptcy…it may help wipe out crushing debt and fight off debt collectors …
Are you a victim of a company that has defrauded you? Were you injured by a company’s fraud or deceptive practices? Are you fighting off crushing debt that has accumulated over years, ranging from credit card debt to medical bills? Are debt collectors hounding you over old debts from more than 6 years ago or for debt that is not even yours?
At VINCE RABAGO LAW OFFICE PLC, we have successfully helped people in the community fight off debt collection companies wrongfully suing consumers. In one case, we overturned a judgment that we alleged was fraudulently obtained by an out of state debt collector Midland Funding, a company who was a defendant in a nationwide class action fraud case. Here is the successful Motion we filed with select exhibits. Motion to Set Aside Judgment Based on Fraud – FILED Exhibit A – Affidavit Exhibit B – Excerpt of Order in Class Action Fraud caseExhibit C – Excerpts of Fraud Lawsuit
We also represent individuals file bankruptcy, which can fight off fraudulent debt collectors while wiping out your overwhelming debts at the same time.
You may need help from an experienced and aggressive Consumer Protection attorney like VINCE RABAGO at VINCE RABAGO LAW OFFICE to evaluate your personal situation to determine whether you have a case involving a violation of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or Arizona’s Consumer Protection laws (the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). You also have significant rights and remedies under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that can help protect you while also helping to wipe out crushing debt if you qualify.
There are numerous “debt collection” companies and debt buyers out there who actually buy old, charged-off debt from credit card and other companies which feel they can no longer collect on that obligation. Sometimes, these debts are older than six years, which is the Arizona Statute of Limitations for suing to collect on a written contract. These debt companies then go after the debt very aggressively, sometimes not even giving proper notice of their debt collection lawsuit. This can result in a person having a civil judgment against them, and you may not even learn about it until you find out that your wages are being garnished. But your rights may have been violated along the way.
If you have an issue involving debt collection, or are in bad financial straits, or simply want to evaluate your potential consumer protection or bankruptcy alternatives, please contact our office. We are Debt Relief Agency under federal law. We can help.