Records reveal compensation behind Scottsdale Southbridge referendum movement

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The group responsible for gathering around 17,000 signatures in December, reportedly operating with a throng of volunteers to accomplish such a feat, paid a professional signature gatherer nearly $60,000, new campaign finance documents show.

In addition, City Councilman Guy Phillips’ wife, Cora, was also paid to gather signatures.

Committee for the Preservation of Old Town Scottsdale was tasked with gathering about 12,000 verified signatures for a referendum petition to fight an approved development, Southbridge Two, which seeks to redevelop portions of Fifth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale.

The group was given about 30 days for their efforts.

In early January the group turned in their signatures to the Scottsdale City Clerk’s office, where about 17,000 names were reported to be contained on the documents.

Campaign finance documents provided online by the City Clerk, dated 3:37 p.m. Jan. 15, show the group raised $128,670 in total from:

  • $6,200 in donations more than $50 by individuals;
  • $120 in donations less than $50 by individuals;
  • $44,350 in partnership donations; and
  • $78,000 in corporations and limited liability corporations.

Of that amount, $92,365.62 was used for operating expenses, and $14,951.60 was paid for ballot measure expenditures.

The PAC’s treasurer, Dewey Schade --- an Old Town Scottsdale commercial real estate proprietor --- donated $5,200.

Floyd Investments, a limited partnership which PAC Chairman Janet Floyd Wilson is connected to, donated a total of $42,000 in four installments.

Park Fifth Avenue LLC, of which Mr. Schade is listed as a manager of on Arizona Corporation Commission documents, donated $35,000 in three installments.

The third big spender was Sunbrella Properties Ltd, directed and owned by Michael Simonson, according to ACC documents.

Mr. Schade also provided $14,515 of in-kind contributions.

The PAC’s disbursements for operating expenses went toward office supplies, legal fees, professional fees, signs and petition gathering.

For legal fees the PAC paid Timothy A. La Sota $8,275; while Fulcrum Group received nearly $13,000 for professional fees.

According to Ms. Wilson, the Fulcrum Group assisted in locating professional petition gathers.

Specifically, a woman named Diane Burns was named on the campaign finance documents as being paid for petition gathering. She earned $58,496.

“My understanding is there are three groups that do this --- and I think the one you need to ask about this is Lamar Whitmer, he’s the one that --- him and some people, were in the know of how to do this,” Ms. Wilson said of the PAC paying one Apache Junction resident $58,000 for gathering signatures.

Mr. Whitmer told the Independent that Ms. Burns is a professional petition gatherer with her own company, which he believed was called Petition Pros.

Although, this company is considered “inactive” through the Arizona Corporation Commission.

“We used her and a number of other gatherers,” Mr. Whitmer said.

Mr. Whitmer says there is another professional petition gatherer in the Scottsdale-area, Andrew Chavez. Ms. Wilson says Mr. Chavez cited a “conflict of interest” and declined to work for the PAC.

The other petition gathers listed on the campaign finance documents were paid:

  • Cora Phillips: $3,192;
  • Howard Deming: $69.28;
  • Judy Hoelscher: $220;
  • Shirley Cordiasco: $370; and
  • Susie Wheeler: $75.

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