Opinion: Stop Dark Money in Prescott Politics

I was the victim of a vicious smear campaign when I challenged Mr. Mengarelli for Prescott mayor in 2017.  Time to break my silence.

Part of my decision to come forward now involves both an acceptance of my disability, and an understanding of my ensuing private humiliation.  But my decision also stems from utter disgust over the continuation of these ad hominem attacks against candidates in the current city election.

In 2001, I sustained a traumatic brain injury while riding my bicycle in Philadelphia.  An errant truck moved into the bicycle lane where I was riding and changed the trajectory of my life forever.  I am plagued with migraines, vestibular problems, fatigue, and uncontrolled seizures to this day.

As any returning military veteran or stroke victim can attest, the recovery process from a brain injury is painstakingly slow, lonely, and dignity stripping.  I was unable to return to my dream job as an Assistant District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia.  With extreme humiliation, I eventually applied for (and received) a government disability.  The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) became my secondary medical provider.

Still, I persevered for years to recover, trying to give back to my new Prescott community through voluntary public service.  I spent over 800 hours researching, writing, and editing the Williamson Valley Community plan.  I wrote for numerous city, county, and state politicians and even helped draft the recovery home legislation at the state level.  I also toured Arizona giving my PowerPoint presentation on taxpayer liability within the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).  When I felt I had a good grasp of the issues, and a vision for Prescott, I decided to run for mayor.

But nothing in my life to this point could possibly have prepared me for that campaign.  Rather than speaking to the issues of the campaign, two mailers attacked me for “fleecing Arizona taxpayers” because I was on AHCCCS.  Financed by Dark Money, politics in Prescott degenerated into that of personal annihilation.  To inflict the worst possible damage on my character, my private humiliation now became public.

Jean Wilcox, the 3rd candidate for mayor, immediately called and expressed genuine dismay over the mailers and the release of my private medical information.  She further disavowed any knowledge of the PAC that paid for the ads.  To this day, I never heard from the Mengarelli campaign.

As an aside, hoping to deter Dark Money from entering Prescott politics again, I sued the Arizona Voter Education Project PAC to discover the identity of the donors.  Unfortunately, I never received that information.   City attorney Jon Paladini comically wrote that the Arizona Voter Education Project did not violate state campaign finance laws as the mailers “did not expressly advocate . . . the defeat of a candidate.”

Campaign attacks against current city candidates bear a striking resemblance in tone to those used against me.  And once again Mr. Mengarelli claims he has no idea who’s behind the ads smearing his political opponents.  Yet his campaign team — specifically Pam Jones and David Hess — and his developer donors remain the same as from the 2017 election.

Voters, the decision is in your hands.  Don’t let Dark Money win in Prescott politics again.  Vote Phil Goode for Mayor; Eric Moore and Brandon Montoya for City Council.

[Editor’s Note: As a matter of editorial policy, Prescott eNews does not endorse specific candidates.  The foregoing article is published in what we believe is the public interest. However, the opinions expressed  are those of the author.]

20 thoughts on “Opinion: Stop Dark Money in Prescott Politics”

  1. Thank you for this Mary Beth. Same disgusting players. Same controlling and greedy donors. Same hubris and arrogance. Sadly, the people of Prescott are the ones who lose.

  2. These ads are awful. I wasn’t really planning to vote in the upcoming mayor race, but I think this article just motivited me to take the time to learn about the candidates running against Mr. Mengarelli. Anyone who would run ads like this needs to be out of politics. Disgusting behavior.

    1. Thank you for reading the article, Craig. Spread the word! Voters like you can change the election, and the future of Prescott.

  3. I met Mary Beth through my life partner Jeri Smith-Fornara, a number of years ago. She is an exceptionally motivated and able person devoted to public service. When she ran for board of supervisors and mayor, I was shocked by the smear campaigns run against her. I am glad she brought them into the open. The anything-goes political environment in Prescott is dismaying. Campaign lawn signs of non-incumbents torn down and removed. Disgusting negative campaigning. Limited time for public comment at city council meetings. Rulings by city officials to suit the political interests of incumbent officeholders. Time for a cleanout.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Ted. So sad that someone with your experience (20 years + in presidential politics) sees how corrupt things are here.

  4. Thank you Mary Beth for sharing your story. I remember what happened 4 years ago, so it very obvious it is the same dirty campaign tricks as you and Jean Wilcox were subjected to. Hopefully enough Prescott Residents will be informed enough to recognize a scam!

    1. We can only do our own little part. Spread this article so voters know what is going on here in Prescott

  5. It should be noted that Prescott Indivisible has not endorsed any candidates for the City Council race, nor are we coordinating any campaigns.
    As individuals we admire the efforts of the council candidates Brandon Montoya and Eric Moore.
    Prescott indivisible’s mission is “to educate, share and uphold liberty with justice for all with compassion and a dedication to truth”.
    It is pathetic that the principals of the AZ Residents Council, who distributed the last card, are not only from Scottsdale, but obviously have no “dedication to truth”.

    1. Maria,
      Thank you for your clarification. Unfortunately, when Dark Money is involved, truth is the first casualty.

  6. Mary Beth Campbell,
    I have only known you to be kind and caring , in particular, wanting to share your prior successes and life experiences as a police woman, an attorney and an assistant district attorney in PA with the citizens of Prescott Az. Your knowledge could have helped , not hurt this city.
    What this group of people have done to you and to Noel Campbel is disgusting . Here we have two people who have quite literally given their lives to service so that we may all live in a wonderful country and city , such as Prescott Az.
    Both yours and Noel’s life of service is something to be commended and admired , not destroyed by people who have done nothing for the greater good . Other than line their own pockets through deceit and the love of power.
    This incident and the current trashing of others who have stepped up to give of themselves for the betterment of this community, is so low down and dirty. Anyone who participates in this behavior should be tarred and feathered and run out of town ….this is shameful.
    They should be wearing a scarlet letter on their backs….this is not very Christian like !

  7. Gregory Neneman

    It is disappointing when a politician has to go negative due to the fact he or she is so compromised, in this election the present Mayor cannot articulate his vision because it is comprised, so he attacks. Thank you for your honesty Mary Beth

  8. The irony is that the Phil Goode mailer reads “Bringing California policies to Prescott.” when one of the “Residents” is a former California politician.

  9. I doubt that Goode stated “bring California policies to Prescott”? More dirt and lies!

  10. Robert R. Purtymun

    Mary Beth is right on the money. Mengarelli and his cronies are first class sleezebags who are interested in nothing more than feathering their own nests on the backs of Prescott residents. City paid trips to Europe that he refuses to discuss and piles of cash from the builders to whom he panders. Trumped up lies about his challengers in hopes that he can continue his underhanded dealings. Phil Goode, Eric Moore and Brandon Montoya are the best choices for the future of Prescott.

  11. I wish I could vote for Phil Goode, but I live outside the city limits. But thank you for enlightening us on dirty politics, even at a local level. We moved here (from CA) to get away from this kind of garbage. Sorry to see it creeping in here in this lovely town.

  12. Damn. Lets begin. The Builders and Realtor association in Prescott funds their candidates to sit on the City Council. Before Mayor Oberg and Rep. Campbell saved Prescott from the recovery home take over Prescott was doomed. Out of state Real estate investment trusts had bought up 100s of homes for rentals. I know, I researched it for the Citizens Tax Committee. Prescott was in serious trouble. Phil Goode and I attended every City Council meeting there was for many years, it’s all on video. We stood with the Mayor and State Reps and never quit. There is no finer Candidate for Mayor than Phil Goode. Mary Beth, your the best. Richard Steelman, Edmond Ok.

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