The race for Arizona attorney general has turned into two separate campaigns. One is waged in the traditional way of pressing palms, erecting campaign signs and trading barbs.
The other is through the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, where Democratic incumbent Terry Goddard and Republican challenger Bill Montgomery have each filed complaints against the other.
The commission, which oversees the spending of publicly financed candidates, is meeting Monday to decide whether to accept Montgomery’s preliminary agreement to return $43,000 in funds to settle G oddard’s complaint against him. The commission also will decide whether to accept the commission’s executive director’s recommendation to dismiss Montgomery’s complaint against Goddard.
“We’re working on a resolution, and I don’t anticipate it going any further,” Montgomery said Friday of the complaint against him.
Montgomery, who filed a complaint against Goddard after the incumbent filed the first one, said Goddard is using Clean Elections as a political tool.
Goddard said Clean Elections is an “experiment in creative democracy” and its success depends upon a set of rules that are clearly articulated and followed. And Montgomery didn’t follow them.
“He tried to cheat,” Goddard said.
Montgomery, who like Goddard, was unopposed in his respective primary, has admitted that advertisements he filmed during the primary were intended for the general election, contending that any candidate unopposed in the primary would set his sights on the general.
Montgomery complains that the Clean Elections complaints take away from the real issues. He says Goddard has done nothing during his tenure, and Arizona has continued to lead the nation in crime.
Goddard said the FBI statistics that Montgomery cites don’t include the sophisticated financial fraud crimes that fall under his office’s jurisdiction.
Montgomery’s answer to solving most of Arizona’s crime problem is to go after human smugglers, or “coyotes,” and drug smugglers who use Arizona as a main thoroughfare.
He would form a special illegal immigrant prosecution unit to work with the four border counties, stump for a criminal trespass law for illegal immigrants and push for a law allowing local police to question suspects on their immigration status.
“We need to send a message to Mexico that they won’t get away with coming here illegally,” Montgomery said.
Goddard has been going after smugglers by seizing their funds, which are sent through money transfer companies.
Besides the $17 million in illegal money seized, the operations also led to arrests of smugglers and the discovery of drop houses, Goddard said.
Goddard recently expanded the operation from just seizing funds going to and from Arizona to seizing money going to Mexico from 26 states, drawing a legal challenge from Western Union.
Goddard has 20 years on Montgomery in both age and political experience, and he has a political pedigree, being the son of Samuel Pearson Goddard Jr., who was Arizona’s governor from 1965 to 1967.
Being a governor’s son didn’t impress everybody at Harvard, where Goddard shared a campus with Al Gore, whose father was a U.S. senator at the time. The grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower also attended college with Goddard.
In 1982, Goddard had already scored a significant political victory by leading a successful push to divide Phoenix into City Council districts. He also was elected mayor while Montgomery was still attending high school in Southern California.
While Goddard cut his political teeth, Montgomery’s family struggled, moving constantly and living without his father in his family’s life.
“I was more or less homeless in the 10th grade,” Montgomery said, adding that he lived with another family.
“Everybody would have accepted if I had failed,” he said.
Montgomery excelled at school, however, and became the first person from his high school to get into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“It’s the world’s premier leadership institute,” he said.
Montgomery graduated in 1989, the last year of Goddard’s service as mayor.
Goddard was able to win mayoral re-election four times, but he couldn’t get past Republican Fife Symington in the 1990 gubernatorial race.
Goddard’s second try at governor also ended in defeat, this time in 1994 in the Democratic primary to grocer Eddie Basha.
During that time, Montgomery was a tank platoon leader and was deployed in the Persian Gulf War with the 1st Cavalry Division clearing land mines.
Montgomery ended his military service in 1995 and took a job in Silicon Valley, Calif., until 1998, when he began law school at Arizona State University.
Goddard, meanwhile, took the job as Arizona’s director of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, which he kept until 2002, the year Arizona Democratic Chairman Jim Pederson talked him out of a third try for governor and instead to seek the attorney general’s office.
While Goddard worked as the state’s chief law enforcer, Montgomery worked in the county attorney’s office prosecuting vehicular crimes, gang members and repeat offenders.
“Bill is an excellent employee,” wrote supervisor Lou Stalzer in Montgomery’s first evaluation in October 2002. “He is dedicated, hardworking and a true team player who is always willing to help others.”
Montgomery received similar praise in following evaluations, none of which carries any harsh criticism.
Montgomery left the county attorney’s office in 2004, reluctantly, in favor of a better paying private law firm.
During Goddard’s term, he won a conviction of the top two executives of the Baptist Foundation, which went bankrupt in 1999.
He also has taken on Wal-Mart, accusing the retailer of neglecting to properly display prices, and led the crusade to get cities to pass ordinances restricting the access to certain cold medicines, the main ingredient in producing methamphetamine.
Montgomery said he decided to run early this year after discussions with Republican Party members. And the race was on.