Anti-Casino PACs Lose Lawsuit, File Appeal

Two political action committees (PACs) in Glendale, AZ filed a lawsuit against the City of Glendale on September 22 (CV2014-011334).

The PACs were seeking an order to force the city to accept the giant stacks of expensive petitions the PACs circulated in opposition to two City Council actions regarding the proposed Tohono O’odham (TO) casino.

Petition Partners: "About to go make some friends"

Petition Partners:
“About to go make some friends”

The city had rejected the petitions on the grounds the council actions in question were not referable.

Decision For Glendale

Gary Hirsch, responsible (with Jill Ryan) for these political committees, didn’t like that answer from the city.

The result, however, was exactly the same as the last time his “Respect The Promise” (RTP) PAC paid a lot of money to gather petition signatures in the Spring.

Their hubris is boundless, so they sued the City to force them to accept the petitions.

Court Results

They lost. The Hon. Katherine Cooper rejected their request for a “Writ of Mandamus” on December 10.

Judge Cooper’s decision states:

“Since the Resolution and Settlement Agreement are administrative actions, they are not referable, and Promise’s Application must be denied.”

There was also an argument from the PACs that the Glendale City Clerk doesn’t have discretion to reject petition sheets.

“That is not correct. Since the Resolution and Settlement Agreement are not referable, the City Clerk is not required to process the petition sheets. In addition, the City has discretion to reject petition sheets that do not meet constitutional requirements.”

And, finally:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED denying Promise’s Application for Writ of Mandamus.”

Gary Hirsch (LinkedIn image)

Gary Hirsch (LinkedIn image)

Hey, Why Not?

When an organization is funded with an essentially limitless and oversightless pocketbook, there is little reason to demonstrate spending restraint.

So, an appeal was filed December 15, coincidentally a week after one of Hirsch’s PACs was notified of a $75k civil penalty being imposed by Glendale for campaign finance violations.

Ineffective Political Spending

All of these efforts are funded by the Gila River Indian Community through donations to another of Hirsch’s groups, an independent expenditure committee (IE) “Neighbors for a Better Glendale” (NFBG).

Some money recently spent by the Community in Glendale through Hirsch’s IE includes:

  • $38,623.47 – RTP paid in April to Petition Partners to circulate petitions that were tossed out by the City.
  • $66,302 – RTP paid in August and September to Petition Partners to circulate petitions that were tossed out by the City.
  • $47,053.80 – “No More Bad Deals For Glendale” (NMBD) paid in August and September to Petition Partners to circulate petitions that were tossed out by the City.
  • $6,000 – “Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood” paid in August  to Petition Partners to circulate petitions that are due Friday, December 19.
  • $9,976.40 – RTP in October for “Legal fees for referendum litigation”.
  • $450 – NMBD paid in October to City of Glendale for “late filing fees”.
  • $16,387.20 – RTP paid in November for legal services, we assume to litigate the action that is the subject of this post, another loss.
  • $16,387.20 – NMBD paid in November as the other half of the payment to the lawyers.
  • $6,560 – NFBG paid in November to Petition Partners for “reimbursement for campaign invoices”.
  • $14,591.39 – NFBG paid in November to Connell Group for “reimbursement for campaign invoices”.
  • $740 – NFBG paid in November to Osborn Maledon for unspecified legal services. We’ll have more about this expense at another time.

$223,071.46 is chump change in the casino business, but ALL of it was thus far wasted.

Good Money After Bad

Untitled-2The most recent finance report for the NFBG IE shows them with $10,286.43 cash on hand. if the report is correct, and history shows it’s quite possibly wrong, additional funds will be required to meet upcoming expenses, including the appeal.

With their track record of poor performance and a horrendous lack of attention to detail, you might imagine the Gila River Community would be upset enough with Hirsch and his organizations to cut them off from further funds.

Apparently not, yet.

As mentioned above, the groups have decided to file an appeal of the decision against them. It’s likely the appeal will cost the Gila River Indian Community at least as much as the original case, nearly $33k.

It’s also likely the decision to spend more money wasn’t made before a call to the bankers was made.

The City may demand to be reimbursed for their own legal fees for both the original defense and for litigating the appeal, if their expenses for outside counsel are similar to their opponents, that means about $66k.

One of the lawyers for the group even hinted in a story on AZ Central they were considering appealing the civil fine levied against them (click here) for violating campaign finance statutes. It’s unlikely that lawyer will work for free, the ten minutes she spent talking to peter Corbett from AZ Central will show up on a bill one day.

Finally, there’s the $75k fine. Will Gary Hirsch and Jill Ryan pay the fine out of their own pockets, or will another donation from the NFBG IE come their way to cover the fine?

 

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  1. […] petitions. They lost their case (CV2014-011334) in Superior Court on December 10 and filed an appeal on December 15, having paid their attorneys at least $32,774.40 […]