U.S. Senate candidate called out for illegal hires

2012-07-10T13:29:00Z 2012-07-10T13:51:03Z U.S. Senate candidate called out for illegal hiresBrady McCombs, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 10, 2012 1:29 pm  • 

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake is accusing his primary opponent, Wil Cardon, of hiring illegal immigrants at a restaurant his company partially owned.

Flake has launched a new TV ad airing throughout Arizona on broadcast and cable calling out Cardon for ‘talking tough’ on illegal immigration but having been ‘busted’ by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for employing illegal immigrants.

The allegations stem from a 2008 ICE audit of employment paperwork at 10 Phoenix Subway restaurants run by RCC Partners, which is partially owned by the Cardon Group. Cardon is president and CEO of the Cardon Group, a family business founded in the 1930s by Cardon’s grandfather and later run by his father. The company started operating gas stations in Arizona before branching out into real estate investments in the 1970s.

The ICE investigation found 30 of the 49 employees at that time, and 121 of the 269 former employees, at Phoenix Subways operated by RCC Partners were undocumented workers. RCC Partners was fined by ICE for the violations.

The new TV ad features a clip of Cardon saying earlier this year about illegal immigration, “This is an issue of the law, and so we need to hold everyone accountable to that.”

The ad calls Cardon “busted.”

The Cardon campaign says he has hundreds of investments and the Cardon Group is a co-owner of RCC Partners as a minority shareholder. Cardon has never been involved in the hiring, firing or management of the employees at the Subways that were investigated, the campaign says.

The campaign also said the ICE fines were for paperwork violations made by the company, RCC Partners.

“The people who filled it out could very well have been in the country legally and simply made a mistake,” the Cardon campaign said in a statement. “Either way, based on the rules at that time, RCC Partners had little recourse in verifying the immigration status of its employees. That verification process is better with e-verify (although it's not fool-proof). RCC Partners now uses e-verify.”

Cardon, who had invested $4.3 million of his own money into the campaign through April, continues with his own aggressive campaign of TV ads.

He has two new TV ads out this week. In one, he again casts himself as a conservative businessman who will get the country moving in the right direction.

“When you stand for conservative change, career politicians falsely attack you,” Cardon says. “I'm not afraid of them but I'm angry they’re hurting our country.”

He then calls out Flake for supporting an energy tax, “amnesty” and increasing the debt ceiling.

“I'm a businessman who's balanced budgets and created jobs,” Cardon says. “I'll work to get America moving in the right direction.”

The other TV ad from Cardon takes Flake to task for breaking his own promise made in 2000 that he would only serve three terms in Congress. He’s served six terms of 12 years.

The ad plays a clip of him being asked about the promise, in which Flake answers, “I lied. . . I don’t know what else to say.”

The primary is Aug. 28 and early ballots go out on Aug. 2. Flake and Cardon are joined on the Republican ballot for U.S. Senate by former Youngtown mayor Bryan Hackbarth and conservative talk radio host Clair Van Steenwyk.

The winner will face Democrat Richard Carmona, the former U.S. Surgeon General, who is running unopposed.

Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporter Brady McCombs on Twitter by clicking on his name.

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The Arizona Daily Star's Pueblo Politics blog includes stories and related items from the Tucson and Pima County political scene written by Star reporters Becky Pallack and Joe Ferguson.

Have a political topic you would like to see in the blog or suggestions? Email Becky Pallack at bpallack@tucson.com and Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com

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