by Jim Nintzel
Yuri Downing, the one-time Libertarian candidate who absconded rather than face prison time after he pled guilty to perjury charges related to misuse of Clean Elections dollars, is cooling his heels in Pima County Jail while he awaits transfer to Maricopa County.
Downing, the son of former District 28 state Rep. Ted Downing, was arrested yesterday by the Tucson Police Department, according to Deputy Dawn Hanke, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
We're still tracking down details on the arrest, but in the meantime, here's what we reported back in March 2005:
Yuri Downing, the one-time Libertarian candidate from Maricopa County who recently pled guilty to perjury in relation to a free-spending campaign with Clean Elections dollars, is a wanted man.
Judge Jeffrey Hotham of Maricopa County Superior Court issued a warrant for Downing's arrest last Wednesday, March 16, after Assistant Attorney General E.G. Noyes informed the court of his "continuing willful violations of his release conditions."
Downing, the son of Rep. Ted Downing of Tucson, got in trouble with the law after he decided to run for the Arizona Senate. He persuaded two buddies to run for the House of Representatives, forming a Libertarian ticket that had no chance of actually winning office.
Still, because they managed to qualify for Clean Elections dollars, the three received about $100,000 in public money for their campaigns. A good chunk ended up being spent at Scottsdale nightclubs and other hotspots, which the candidates explained was part of their effort to reach out to new voters.
But Clean Elections officials weren't much amused by the trio's unorthodox campaigning and ordered them to repay the money. Downing's pals eventually agreed to reimburse the program on an installment plan; an anonymous benefactor bailed them out last year.
But Downing vowed to fight the commission, saying his campaign was totally legitimate. Once the Attorney General's Office got involved, however, Downing decided he didn't want his day in court after all. He pled guilty to perjury just before Christmas last year.
Downing's sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 26, but his attorney filed a motion requesting a continuance, saying Downing "is experiencing a mental crisis." Judge Hotham agreed to postpone the hearing, but ordered Downing to undergo drug and alcohol monitoring with Pretrial Services.
But Downing failed to report to pretrial services and, according to papers filed with the court, "had not submitted to drug testing, and ... said he would not do it because he would test positive for drugs."
Noyes asked for the arrest warrant late last month because Downing's "apparently drug-using, deteriorating, increasingly desperate condition" and "his expressed fear of incarceration" made him a flight risk.