The Arizona Democratic Party refused requests from two Democratic Party candidates for the party's voter file — both candidates, Amanda Aguirre and Manny Arreguin are running against incumbent Raul Grijalva for U.S. Congress.
Each political party maintains their own voter data base, and is typically available to candidates who use the information to reach registered voters during a campaign and to increase voter turn-out.
Monday, I called the state party's executive director Luis Heredia to get more information. I spoke briefly with Frank Camacho, chief of communications, and was told he'd have Heredia get back to me. I never heard back from Heredia, so I called again yesterday and left a message on his voice mail. Still no word.
Heredia never called the Huff-Po writer back either, but Camacho said this:
... that the decision was made by a vote of the state Executive Committee. I was told the executive director, Luis Heredia, would call me back to explain. Heredia never called me back. The next day, the gracious Mr. Camacho apologized profusely for the lack of a response, then relayed what he was told to relay about the incident.
It seems that because Raul Grijalva is an incumbent with the endorsement of the White House, the Executive Committee somehow felt it necessary to empower Heredia with the ability to deny access to VAN or Voter File. "The party has invested in that file and it contains proprietary information," said Camacho. "So when the executive director was given authorization by the Executive Board, he exercised that authority and decided to deny [Arreguin] access." It should be noted that Heredia is a former aide to Congressman Grijalva.
On Monday, I talked with Arreguin, the Tucson doctor who is one of the two Dems running against Grijalva, and Tuesday morning I talked with Aguirre, the other candidate from Yuma who served as an state Senator from 2006 to 2010 and a state Representative from 2003 to 2006. Yesterday, I left word with Grijalva's media contact Adam Sarvana asking for comment, but he directed me to the Huff-Po piece and Camacho's comment.
Arreguin said his campaign talked with the state Secretary of State's office to obtain the voter file and filled out what they thought was the necessary paperwork. "We were waiting to hear back, but when we hadn't heard anything we found out in an e-mail that the state (Democratic) party denied access to the (voter database) because (Grijalva) is an incumbent and he had received a presidential endorsement."
Arreguin said he didn't know the state party would be involved in the request. He called Heredia to get more information and also sent an e-mail asking if the state party's office would reconsider the decision. But he never heard back from anyone.
"When we sign up and register with a political party, one reason why we do that is to keep abreast of the candidates - 'Perhaps they will call me when it's election time comes along and I might be able to volunteer, donate money and participate.' That's the expectation," he said.
Isn't this just politics?
"I certainly wasn't born yesterday, but it's just amazing the levels you have to penetrate to be a participant in this democratic process," Arreguin said.
This morning Aguirre said she went to the state party's office in Phoenix at the of March long before Grijalva received the presidential endorsement and spoke with Heredia to request the database information. Heredia told her that she wouldn't be given the information because Grijalva is an incumbent and that the decision was made by the state's executive committee.
"I was very disappointed, of course. I've been a Democrat all my life and elected as a Democrat before. I work bipartisan, but nonetheless, this is my party, so i was very disappointed and sad," Aguirre said.
Aguirre said she went to a national company to get the voter information, which costs more than going through the state party office. However, when we talked with her she couldn't recall the name of the company or how much it cost her campaign.
"Well, I think certainly there are people in the party that have that relationship with Raul Grijalva ... Yes, he's an incumbent, but I think in this country, we should have any candidate step up to run in an election without being attacked by their own party," she said.
According to the state Democratic Party's website, the executive committee includes chair Bill Roe, first vice chairwoman Harriet Young, treasurer Rick McGuire, senior vice chairman Jim Woodbrey, national committeewoman Carolyn Warner, national committeewoman Judy Kennedy, vice chairwoman Laura Hogan, vice chairwoman Jo Kelleher, vice chairwoman Sherry B. Williams, vice chairman Chris Campas, vice chairman Manuel Cruz, vice chairman Gerald Richard, and secretary Sharon Thomas.