Russell Pearce

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Russell Pearce is a former Republican State Senator in Arizona, representing the 18th District since 2006, and previously representing the Mesa area in the Arizona House since 2000.[1][2] Pearce identified himself as a member of the Tea Party. He was Senate President from January 2011 until he was recalled from office by the Arizona electorate in November 2011.[3] The precedent-setting recall election was seen by some as a referendum on SB1070, the controversial immigration law he sponsored and which was signed into law in 2010.[4]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Pearce was a long-time member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and was on the public sector executive committee of its Public Safety and Elections Task Force.[5]

NPR also reported that Arizona's SB 1070 bill that received nation-wide attention and protests was written by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and others at an ALEC meeting. Pearce denies that CCA and ALEC had any part in writing the legislation.[6]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.


The Citizens for a Better Arizona submitted 16,949 signatures for a recall election of Senator Russell Pearce. The Maricopa County Recorder's Office needs 7,756 to proceed with the election. The deadline for the Office to submit a final tally to the Arizona Secretary of State is August 1, 2011.

"The Secretary of State's Office then has five days, excluding weekends and holidays, to tabulate the signatures and put the recall on the ballot. Gov. Jan Brewer then has 15 days to issue an official call for an election. If she issues that call by Aug. 10, the election would be in November. If it's after that, the election would be in March. This would be the first recall election of a state legislator in Arizona history."[7]

On November 8, 2011, Pearce was defeated in the recall election by challenger Jerry Lewis.[8]

On August 28, 2012, Pearce lost the Republican primary for a state senate seat to businessman Bob Worsley, by 56 to 44 percent.[9]

SB 1070

Pearce co-introduced Arizona's controversial SB1070 anti-immigrant law, which was drafted in part by the Federation for Immigration Reform and the Corrections Corporation of America. In February 2011, SB1611 was introduced, a new anti-immigrant omnibus bill that "has raised new fears by immigrant rights advocates who claim it will further polarize the state and damage economic recovery."[10]

SB 1070 sought to "Require officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties."

SB 1611 "specifies that it is unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle in Arizona if the person is unlawfully present in the U.S. Requires demonstration of lawful presence for obtaining public housing, a vehicle title and registration, community college or university admission or any public benefit."

SB 1070 was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.

On April 11, 2011, The Ninth Court of Appeals upheld District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton's injunction grant of four sections of the law that dealt with police officers being required to ask for papers of anyone they suspect as "illegal," making it illegal for legal non-citizens not to carry their registration papers, forbidding day-workers from working and "allowing police to conduct warrantless arrests if they believe a suspect has committed a crime that makes them removable from the country."[11]

"Bolton's ruling was in response to the lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that 1070 was unconstitutional and preempted by federal law. Governor Brewer's attorneys from the pricey firm of Snell and Wilmer appealed the injunction ... Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Paez found that federal law did preempt Arizona's statute, and that there were grave foreign policy implications if the enjoined sections went into effect."[12]

SCOTUS Ruling on SB 1070 & Subsequent Legal Challenges

The U.S. Supreme court struck down most of the law but upheld the "show me your papers" requirement. [13][14] However, the "show me your papers" part of the law is now being challenged by the ACLU of Arizona due to new evidence showing the law may have been racially motivated.[15] Through an open records request, the ACLU discovered several emails sent to and from the SB 1070's author, Russell Pearce.[16]

Bills and Recognition

On Pearce's website, it lists a total of 29 bills that he has introduced. Below, several are listed:

  • 2006 - Proposition 100 - denies bail to undocumented workers who commit crimes.
  • 2006 - Proposition 102 - denies punitive damages to injured undocumented residents who sue U.S. citizens.
  • 2006 - Proposition 103 - makes English the official language of Arizona.
  • 2006 - Proposition 300 - denies day care, tuition and adult classes to undocumented residents
  • 2007 - SB 1177 - the strictest law in the nation forbidding employers from hiring undocumented workers or their business license can be revoked.
  • 2008 - SB 1108 - bars Arizonan public schools from teaching "anti-Western" sentiment and prohibits the formation of groups at public institutions "based in whole or part on the race of their membership"
  • 2010 - SB 1070 - eliminates sanctuary policies in Arizona by requiring law enforcement to arrest undocumented workers for trespassing.
  • 2010 - SB - (Freedom to Carry Act) allows U.S. citizens to carry concealed firearms.
  • 2010 - Proposition 107 - eliminates affirmative action programs in the Arizona government.
  • 2010 - Proposition 102 - outlaws gay marriage rights


  • ALEC Legislator of the Year 2009
  • Ranked #1 Legislator by Americans for Prosperity
  • Ranked #1 Legislator by the Pachyderm Coalition of Reagan Republicans
  • Awarded "Hero of the Taxpayer" by the American Tax Reform Association[17]

From the "Defending Our Values" section of Pearce's website:

  • 100% Pro-Life Record
  • Defender of Private Property Rights and stopping the abuse of Eminent Domain
  • Defending 2nd Amendment liberties (A+ rating from the NRA, top ranked by the Arizona Citizens Defense League (Author of SB1108 Freedom to Carry Act)
  • Sponsored the largest tax relief package in state history
  • Strong supporter of quality education and education choice to allow parents the right to pick the best schools for their children
  • "Strong Public Safety and Safe Neighborhoods" (anti-immigrant legislation), "Secure Borders and Strict Interior Enforcement" (anti-immigration legislation)[18]

Link to Neo-Nazi Members

In 2006, Pearce "sent an e-mail to supporters in which he copied an article from a White separatist group and a link to that group's Web site."[19] He was also associated with and even endorsed the National Socialist Movement (neo-Nazi) member J.T. Ready.[20]

Think Progress reports: "Pearce — who ordained Ready as an “elder” in the Mormon church and supported his unsuccessful City Council run — has always claimed that he had no knowledge of Ready’s controversial beliefs and affiliations. (Meanwhile, Bill Straus, regional director of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League, claims to have met with Pearce and informed him on J.T. Ready and other neo-Nazis flocking to his anti-immigrant cause)."

Tent City, Arizona

Pearce was the Chief Deputy for Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio, along with Pearce, helped develop the infamous "Tent City" - "an outpost of Army surplus tents in the desert that's been heavily criticized by immigration and human rights advocates.

Infamous Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County's law-enforcement overlord, is planning to jail illegal immigrants convicted under the state's new immigration law in his notorious "Tent City"— "an outpost of Army surplus tents in the desert that's been heavily criticized by immigration and human rights advocates. According to The Arizona Republic, Arpaio has declared that he has room for at least 1,000 new prisoners in the tents in the desert, where summer temperatures routinely hit the triple digits.

There are several lawsuits of mistreatment and wrongful death against Arpaio, as well as a federal investigation into his immigration sweeps.[21]

Campaign Funding and PAC Contributions

The Fiesta Bowl has come under scrutiny for its donations and spending on politicians. Russell Pearce is a beneficiary of trips paid for by the Fiesta Bowl.

The New York Times reported in March 2011: "Pearce and his wife, LuAnne, traveled to Chicago in 2005 to attend a Northwestern-Michigan game and stayed at the Ritz-Carlton. He and his wife also traveled to Boston on a similar trip with his son in 2008, according to the report ... Angela Holt, one of the bowl’s financial officers, told investigators she had found no documentation to show that the politicians had reimbursed the bowl for the cost of the trips."[22]

Team America, a PAC led by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., also sent an e-mail blast soliciting corporate and private donations for Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall.

The email stated: "Because it is a recall effort corporate funds are welcome and contributions are unlimited!!"[23]

"State elections officials say Arizona law bans corporate and union donations to influence an election, and that includes opposing a recall effort."


"Senator Pearce spent 23 years as Deputy Sherriff of Maricopa County ... [He] received a B.A. in Management from the University of Phoenix and was enrolled at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Motor Vehicle Legal and Law College, Advanced Executive Development, Arizona State University, Budget and Appropriations, University of Arizona, and Arizona Judicial College, Supreme Court of Arizona" but has no degrees from those institutions.[24]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. Arizona State Legislature, Pearce Member Page, state governmental website, accessed November 2012.
  2. Riccardi, Nicholas (January 17, 2011). "Arizona's relentless conservative voice", Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on January 19, 2011.. 
  3. Crawford, Amanda J. (November 9, 2011.). "Arizona Immigration-Law Author Pearce Loses in Recall Election". Retrieved on November 9, 2011. 
  4. Leslie Berestein Rojas, Is the Russell Pearce recall election a referendum on Arizona's immigration politics?, 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio, November 8, 2011.
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, Public Sector Executive Committee, organizational website, accessed July 9, 2011, archived by the Wayback Machine April 9, 2011
  6. Russell Pearce Denies Cutting Deal On Immigration, Won’t Say Whether He’ll Run For Governor, "LA Progressive." November 11, 2010.
  7. Russell Pearce likely to face recall , "AZ Jun. 15, 2011"
  8. Phil Benson and Elizabeth Erwin, Russell Pearce ousted in historic recall election, CBS 5 - KPHO, November 8, 2011.
  9. Arizona Secretary of State, State of Arizona Official Canvass - 2012 Primary Election - August 28, 2012, official state election results, accessed November 2012.
  10. Steve Nuñez New immigration bill expands I.D. requirements, KGUN9-TV, February 22, 2011
  11. Russell Pearce Denied by 9th Circuit on 1070; Judge Susan Bolton's Injunction Remains, "Phoenix New Times, Mon., Apr. 11 2011"
  12. Russell Pearce Denied by 9th Circuit on 1070; Judge Susan Bolton's Injunction Remains, "Phoenix New Times, Mon., Apr. 11 2011"
  13., ARIZONA ET AL. v. UNITED STATES, Accessed, July 23, 2012
  14. Mark Sherman,, Huffington Post, June 25, 2012
  15., Accessed July 23, 2012
  16. Alia Beard Rau,, ACLU: Pearce e-mails prove SB 1070 was racially motivated, Arizona Republic, July 23, 2012
  17. "Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce", Russell Pearce. Accessed July 9, 2011.
  18. Ibid
  19. Amanda J. Crawford Pearce e-mail draws apology, Arizona Republic, October 11, 2006
  20. Gary Nelson Congressmen want J.T. Ready out of GOP post, Arizona Republic, August 21, 2008
  21. "Why the Attorney General's Race is so Important: Is Sheriff Joe Arpaio Above the Law?", Tuscon Citizen, accessed July 9, 2011.
  22. ["Fiesta Bowl Spending and Donations Questioned", Thomas, Katie. New York Times. Mar. 29, 2011. Accessed July 9, 2011.
  23. Russell Pearce group may be violating state law, " Jun 7, 2011".
  24. American Legislative Exchange Council Public Sector Executive Committee, organization website, accessed June 2, 2011