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Lawsuit Filed In Search of Dark Money Sources
Featured

04 August 2017  

During a press conference held in his office, local Attorney Chris Jensen announced he had filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mary Beth Hrin, mayoral candidate for the City of Prescott. 

“I’m here on behalf of Mary Beth Hrin,” Attorney Chris Jensen explained at the beginning of the press conference. “…to tell you about the lawsuit that was filed today in connection with two - that we know of - false, informational flyers relating to the Prescott of Mayor election.”

Identifying the People & Organizations

Mary Beth Hrin: Candidate for City of Prescott Mayor; also a fierce advocate for changes to the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System

Chris Jenson: Attorney representing Hrin

David Stringer: State Representative serving in the Arizona House for District 1; also a supporter of Hrin’s campaign. Stringer served as an attorney in Washington, D.C. before moving to Prescott

Noel Campbell: Also an Arizona State Representative for District 1 and a supporter of Hrin.

Joel Schochet: A former attorney from New York, he is acting in an advisor capacity to Hrin.

Sean Phelan: An attorney practicing with Jensen. 

Max Fose: President & CEO of IWS (Integrated Web Strategies), Executive Director for Arizona Voter Education Project, Inc. (AVEP)

Shannon Goodman: Wife of Max Fose

Arizona Voter Education Project (AVEP): A former non-profit corporation - it’s non-profit status was revoked on May 15, 2015 by the IRS. 

What happened?

Two campaign flyers were mailed out with information unfavorable to Mary Beth Hrin.

Campaign flyer #1 

Claims Hrin “fleeced Arizona Taxpayers” and “stiffed Arizona taxpayers for more than $15,000.” It concludes, “Say NO to Politicians who take advantage of Prescott Taxpayers. Say No to Mary Beth Hrin.”

This campaign flyer showed a partial image of a lien against Hrin from AHCCCS for $15,000.

The flyer was “Paid for by the Arizona Voter Education Project, not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.”

It provides a phone number of 602-222-4700.

 

Campaign flyer #2

Points to a couple of statements pulled from a lawsuit Hrin was involved in stemming from when she was hit by an unknown driver while riding her bike. The incident took place when she lived in Pennsylvania. These statements were taken out of context. They are titled, “Fake Address” and “Phantom Cars”. The flyer continues, “Mary Beth Hrin - Fleecing Arizona Taxpayers, Fake Address and Phantom Cars Prescott Deserves Better."

This flyer was also “Paid for by the Arizona Voter Education Project, not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s campaign committee,” and provided a phone number of 602-222-4700.

The Issue

These campaign flyers told only partial truths and referred to information taken out of context. According to the lawsuit Jensen filed on behalf of Hrin, these statements were false and defamatory.

Regarding the Lien

Jensen explained that the lien never claimed she owed one cent. The lien by AHCCCS was filed to fulfill Arizona legal requirements, allowing AHCCCS to recover funds if Hrin ever received any sort of financial settlement from the accident she was involved in for the healthcare she received. 

That lien was released on July 31, 2017, “the claim secured thereby having been satisfied in full.”

Regarding the “Fake Address” and “Phantom Cars”

Hrin’s bicycle accident was caused by a hit-and-run driver, legally described as a “phantom vehicle” in a Court opinion affirming her claim against Allstate Insurance Company. As Jensen explained, Hrin was unable to identify the license plate of the vehicle that hit her, because she was “flying through the air and crashing to the ground.” There was also an eyewitness to the accident. 

Allstate tried to contend that due to the fact that Hrin was separated from her husband at the time, she was not residing at the address on the insurance policy, and therefore should not be covered by the “uninsured/underinsured” clause in her auto policy. The Court ruled against Allstate and determined that she was entitled to coverage under the policy.

Who Sent the flyers Out?

The flyers are identified as being paid for by AVEP. Call the phone number on the flyers, 602-222-4700, and the only answer is a message identifying the number as belonging Integrated Web Strategies. Max Fose, as the President and CEO of IWS, and also the Executive Director of AVEP, and his wife, Shannon Goodman, are the persons named in the lawsuit.  

But, who paid them to create and mail the flyers?

That’s the big question. 

Wikipedia defines ‘dark money’ in this way: "In the politics of the United States, dark money are funds given to nonprofit organizations—and include 501(c)(4) (social welfare) 501(c)(5) (unions) and 501(c)(6) (trade association) groups—that can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals, and unions, and spend funds to influence elections, but are not required to disclose their donors.[3][4] Dark money first entered politics with Buckley v. Valeo (1976) when the supreme court laid out Eight Magic Words that define the difference between electioneering and issue advocacy.”

Neither Jensen or Hrin knows who paid the money to produce the campaign filers, but it is their intention to find out and hold those parties responsible. The lawsuit names unspecified “John Does” and “Jane Does” and potential LLCs, corporations and black and white partnerships, to be identified at a future time. 

“We have right now, related to Max Fose, he is being sued individually; he is being sued as the President and CEO of Integrated Web Solutions, it appears on another part of that website that he is the owner; he is being sued in connection with the Arizona Voter Education Program, which is a corporation that he is the statutory agent for and that he incorporated; and we’re suing Max Fose, LLC, so that’s three different type of entities, plus the individual. But, he didn’t pay the money to influence the Prescott Mayoral election. Somebody in Prescott did that. And we’re not accusing anyone today, we don’t know who it is. We’re going to find out, and we’ll go public with it as soon as we can,” Jensen said.

“Dark money doesn’t work, and somebody like Mr. Fose would have, I believe, less customers for dark money flyers like this if he couldn’t keep the identity of the money source secret,” Jenson added.

When asked how he intended to find out the names of the dark money sources, Jenson replied, “Well, that’s why they have lawsuits. We’re going to ask for it, and I expect that they will have lots of objections.”

“That’s the reason we’re filing this lawsuit, is really to get to the truth of all this,” Hrin said. “And I think the voters would like to find this out."

Jensen has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to “…prevent any further false or misleading mailings to be done by Fose and all Defendants in this case.”

Further Information

Press Release by Mary Beth Hrin

Verified Complaint

Motion for Preliminary Injunction