CrandallGate: State Senator Digging Huge Ethics Hole for Himself

The coverup is often worse than the original crime.

You can’t ask the late President Richard Nixon if that’s true. But you can ask Arizona State Senator Rich Crandall (Republican-Mesa).

Crandall’s daughter was caught red-handed taking down the campaign sign of his August primary opponent, conservative John Fillmore, in Mesa last Thursday. State Rep. Brenda Barton (Republican-Payson) was driving through an intersection on her way back from a doctor’s appointment with her husband Bruce when they spotted the illegal removal of the Fillmore sign. They pulled up to speak with Crandall’s daughter and her female friend, informing them of the improper activity they were involved in. The women put the Fillmore sign back up, and the Bartons left the scene. Bruce Barton captured photos at the scene.

But then Crandall phoned Rep. Barton and, as Rep. Barton explains:

Within minutes Senator Crandall phoned me on my cell and inquired, “… are you driving around East Mesa today?” His demeanor was quite friendly and after some small talk he inquired as to the signs repeating the story the young woman had told me earlier. I informed him that he should take the matter up with Representative Fillmore.  He made some more small talk about my election and the health of a mutual acquaintance and the conversation ended. I found this unusual since I had not identified myself by name to the two young women.  I thought nothing more of this incident.

Rep. Barton said later that afternoon she returned a call to a reporter from the Capitol Times, who had phoned her to inquire about “…that sign issue between Fillmore and Crandall.” Crandall was quoted lying to the Arizona Capitol Times, fabricating falsehoods.

I learned through this interview that Senator Crandall had alleged I had “abused his daughter … sworn, shouted and cursed” at his daughter (I did not know one of the young women was his daughter) and alleged that I had been following them that day and it was a “set up.” Let me assure you, those who have known me at the Capitol are well aware that yelling, shouting, swearing and cursing are not part of my behavior or social style.  Besides, why would anyone yell at or curse these two young women who were obviously only following someone’s instructions?

During a Phoenix press conference today, Rep. Barton explained that she followed up with a phone call to Senator Crandall and left him a voicemail stating “his allegations were patently false and that I wished for a public retraction and apology.”

Sen. Crandall followed up by leaving Rep. Barton a disturbing and angry, threatening voicemail of his own, audible below:

Crandall is chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Rep. Barton is vice-chairman of the House Higher Education Committee. The coercive threat was clear, and Rep. Barton today announced plans to file an Ethics Complaint in about two days, with the Senate Secretary requesting a hearing of the Senate Ethics Committee to determine if Senator Crandall violated rules of disorderly conduct or any other ethics category. Furthermore, she said:

Ladies and gentlemen, the bottom line is twofold:  A member of the Arizona Senate and Chairman of the Education Committee should not put petty revenge above the good of the people by killing potentially good legislation for Arizona’s school children. Education is a cause Senator Crandall professes to champion and yet he clearly demonstrated that it goes under the bus when it comes to settling his personal scores and that he’ll use his position of trust to do just that. This alone should grounds for his dismissal from Chairmanship of any Committee. Instructing his daughter to commit an infraction of the law and then using his position to make threats, bully and thwart good legislation is clearly behavior not to be tolerated in the Arizona Legislature. This is no longer an issue over sign placement.  This is not about a dad defending his daughter.  Senator Crandell in his own words told his daughter and friend to do the wrong thing. Making up prevaricated stories to change the focus of the real issue to making me the subject of misdeeds.  Then attempting to threaten and bully me into submission, will not be tolerated.

Rep. Barton also said Sen. Crandall spoke down to her in attempt “to intimidate and bully” her “into silence or compliance. Senator Crandall and I are equal; yet he feels he can speak to me in a demeaning and humiliating manner. This is something women have faced for many years.  I do not know what decade Senator Crandall fell out of, but in 2012 that behavior is no longer tolerated – and certainly not by this woman.

Sen. Crandall contacted Arizona Capitol Times and claimed:

“This is all just a campaign tactic. It is very, very clear that Fillmore will stoop to anything to win our election. I’m disappointed at that.”

Rep. Fillmore has already filed a criminal complaint against the women who removed his sign.

Sen., Crandall keeps digging a deeper hole as he told the Arizona Capitol Times …

“(Fillmore is a) lying SOB, trying to make a story where there isn’t one. For him to attack my daughter and her friend is just low.”

The Arizona Conservative has previously endorsed Fillmore over Crandall for the Legislative District 16 Senate seat. Crandall has in the past conducted fundraising with Democrats, and his voting record is not up to conservative standards. This incident and Crandall’s behavior prove that he is not deserving of election to public office. He would put his personal anger ahead of what is best for Arizona’s school children, and that kind of selfishness and vindictiveness has no place in public policy.

We have also endorsed Rep. Barton for re-election because she has a long and strong record of integrity.

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