Update on Grijalva 'Hit Piece': Who Is Carlos Sierra?

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Right before the press conference started at U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva's campaign office yesterday afternoon, Grijalva primary opponent Amanda Aguirre's campaign sent out a statement regarding the Grijalva mailer paid for by the PAC Opportunity for All.

Aguirre accused the congressman of bullying:

Yesterday, the Grijalva campaign sent a press release blindly accusing former State Senator Amanda Aguirre of “finance irregularities.” The Grijalva campaign has issued repeated attacks and false accusations that constitute a pattern of bullying behavior. Grijalva’s most recent attempt to manipulate the media in his favor is a direct example of his underhanded bullying tactics.

Arizona is tired of Grijalva’s intimidation tactics and threats, of which there is a long history, and tired of Grijalva bully his colleagues and constituents via leveraging the political power of his congressional position.

Sen. Aguirre responded, “This is typical desperation politics on the part of Grijalva. My campaign has never coordinated with an independent political committee nor on any independent expenditures.” Aguirre continued, “It is no surprise others feel unhappy with Grijalva. There are several groups of people extremely frustrated with him and his boycott of Arizona. In fact, Arizona has seen an increase in the number of groups that are displeased with Grijalva.”

Sen. Aguirre added, “This is merely another distraction ploy from Grijalva, again, to avoid facing the important issues that he has failed to address."

At the press conference, Grijalva said the information they discovered onOpportunity for All, was gathered from the PAC's statement of organization filed by Carlos Sierra using the address 5717 Upper Valley Road in El Paso, Texas. A google search by Grijalva's campaign shows the PAC's address, which they claim is an empty El Paso lot.

Sierra, according to Grijalva, is a former John McCain staffer, and they are currently investigating if the mailer violates Federal Election Commission rules. Here's a post from the Center for Public Integrity that explains the world of PACs and elections:

Criminal prosecution is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely — and even civil sanctions are rare, according to a review of Federal Election Commission actions.

Since 1999, the FEC has conducted a total of three investigations into alleged coordination between a candidate committee and an individual or organization making “independent expenditures.” Two of those probes resulted in fines totaling $26,000, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation.

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision and a lower-court ruling in 2010 allowed corporations, individuals and labor unions to make unlimited contributions to independent organizations that use the money to support or defeat a candidate. The ruling led to the creation of “super PACs.”

There is no established fine for offenders. It is up to the six-member FEC — split evenly between Republicans and Democrats — to decide on punishment.

“They have the final say in how much a committee will be paying for a civil penalty,” said Christian Hilland, an FEC spokesman.

Here is a copy of the Opportunity for All filing signed by Sierra:
carlossierra.pdf

We're waiting to hear back from Sierra, whom we contacted by Twitter and e-mail. On his Twitter page, @THECarlosSierra, Sierra describes himself as "Severely Independent. Country before Party. Ex McCain aide. Buddy Roemer nat’l campaign manager. President, Sierra Public Affairs. CNN and POLITICO contributor."

The PAC's website is a tumblr page with only eight posts all from August focused on Grijalva and Aguirre. Earlier write-ups on Sierra were first posted by the Arizona Guardian when he was a McCain staffer facing DUI issues back in 2009.

Apart from that, the Tequila Party's Dee Dee Blase gave Sierra a little praise on her Tucson Citizen blog. Blase wrote that Sierra was returning to Arizona to help with Mike Stauffer's independent run for Maricopa County Sheriff.

Well, it looks like he's helping out with much more.

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