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Political notebook: VIPs weigh in on county attorney race; Altar honors Richard Elias, Lincoln Project targets McSally
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Political Notebook

Political notebook: VIPs weigh in on county attorney race; Altar honors Richard Elias, Lincoln Project targets McSally

As the ballots were mailed out this week, last-minute endorsements and appeals went out for supporters of the candidates of Pima County attorney.

Tucson auto dealer Jim Click, a longtime donor to Republicans, sent out an email encouraging people to support Jonathan Mosher in the Democratic primary. There are no Republicans, so the winner of the Democratic primary will take over the top prosecutor’s office.

In the email, Click notes that Mosher is a fellow board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson, compliments his career at the Pima County Attorney’s office, and criticizes the progressive favorite Laura Conover.

“Her main endorser is Raul Grijalva, and she is supported by the far left. If she takes over our local prosecution office, our leadership in community safety and victim rights will absolutely unravel,” Click wrote, adding an appeal for donations.

Of course, an endorsement by Click is a mixed blessing for Mosher, since Democratic voters in the Tucson area are long accustomed to opposing him politically. The Star’s editorial board endorsed Mosher earlier this week.

Conover won a celebrity endorsement when musician John Legend weighed in with a tweet supporting her on Wednesday.

“Laura Conover will focus prosecution resources on the most serious cases as Pima County District Attorney, while redirecting those in need to the right services rather than jailing them,” wrote Legend, one of 15 people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award, in the statement as part of his advocacy for criminal justice reform.

“Laura Conover will focus prosecution resources on the most serious cases as Pima County District Attorney, while redirecting those in need to the right services rather than jailing them,” Legend wrote.

Conover responded with a tweet of her own, calling the endorsement “an extraordinary surprise.”.

It was one of five endorsements Legend made for county prosecutors on Wednesday.

Conover subject of complaint

A former president of the Arizona State Bar who is the chief deputy Pima County attorney filed a complaint questioning the years a political candidate has been a lawyer.

Chief Deputy Amelia Cramer filed the ethics complaint regarding a television and social media advertisement by Democrat Laura Conover, a candidate for Pima County attorney.

The ad stated Conover had “been fighting for justice for 17 years as a criminal justice attorney”. Cramer questioned the statement and urged for an investigation because Conover was admitted to the state bar in November 2005, which is 14 years ago.

However, when Conover was questioned by state bar attorney Thomas McCauley during the investigation, she said the ad was not misleading because she was representing clients with the Public Defender’s office since 2003 as a law student under state Supreme Court Rule 38 that allowed her to practice law. She said she was making arguments in court and cross-examining witnesses.

McCauley said in his findings that Conover was “engaged in the practice of law under this rule” and “deemed an active member of the state bar.”

“Under the circumstances I do not believe we would have concluded that Ms. Conover’s statement in the subject ad constituted a misleading communication. However, while we were examining the issue, Ms. Conover let us know she had voluntarily withdrawn the ads. This essentially made the issue moot. We are therefore closing this matter.”

When Conover was asked by the Arizona Daily Star why she pulled the ad and had “attorney” cut from a line, and then put the ad back on the air, she said: “I did it out of caution to do the right thing, and I never had to do it because it was a groundless complaint done to score a political point.”

Cramer said she asked for the investigation because Conover’s ad was an “apparent breach of professional ethics and integrity, which appeared to be false and misleading.” She said Conover exaggerated her experience in the ad and “the bottom line is that she has not been an attorney for 17 years. The ad was factually inaccurate.”

“I continue to be troubled by this because I believe honesty is the most important character trait any lawyer must possess, especially a prosecutor, and most especially the lead prosecutor,” Cramer said.

Downtown altar to honor Elias

Longtime Pima County supervisor Richard Elías, who died suddenly in March, is being honored with a temporary altar at the Presidio Museum downtown.

Officials came up with the idea to honor Elías, a fifth-generation Tucsonan and direct descendant of Tucson Presidio settlers who served as a supervisor for 18 years, after being unable to hold a public memorial because of the coronavirus outbreak. Supervisor Betty Villegas, who was appointed to replace Elías, was approached with the idea and cleared it with Elías’ family.

The altar will stay up through Dia de los Muertos and will be taken down Nov. 8. The museum, located at 196 N. Court Ave., recently reopened for limited hours from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and waived its admission fees through Aug. 29. The public can visit the altar for free after that date.

“We are honored to be able to house an altar for Richard and we encourage his supporters, friends and family to bring ofrendas and add to the altar,” said Amy Hartmann-Gordon, Presidio Museum executive director, in a statement. “Richard was an advocate of the homeless, refugees, the environment, social justice and those of limited means. We hope all of his friends will bring something to the altar to say their goodbye.”

Lincoln Project targets McSally

A political action committee formed late last year by several prominent Republicans is hoping to boost Sen. Martha McSally’s name recognition, but not in a good way. McSally is one of 14 GOP senators targeted in a new digital ad called “Names” from the anti-Trump PAC The Lincoln Project. Also highlighted are Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Susan Collins, among others.

“Every time they had a choice between America and Trump, they chose Trump,” the ad says. “Learn their names, remember their actions and never, ever trust them again.”

The ad features images of the senators with the president, in some cases literally embracing him. McSally is shown multiple times greeting Trump on stage with a kiss on the cheek after introducing him at an event. The Lincoln Project was launched in December by a group of “Never Trumpers” that includes Steve Schmidt and John Weaver, who managed John McCain’s presidential campaigns, political consultant Rick Wilson and attorney George Conway, the husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

Justin Sayers and Tim Steller

Carmen Duarte

Justin Sayers

Henry Brean

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Justin, a two-time University of Arizona graduate, covers local government, focusing on the City of Tucson. He previously worked at the Louisville Courier Journal, Arizona Republic and Hartford Courant and has received several journalism awards.

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