Posted on August 2, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Thursday, Aug 2 at 11:00 PM
MESA, Ariz. -- Off the US 60 and Stapley Rd. sits an innocent looking Russell Pearce campaign sign with an endorsement group’s sign atop it. The endorsement group is the Arizona Teacher’s Association.
Members of the Arizona Education Association, a union made up of teachers, say the ATA is deliberately confusing voters.
“It seems like it is almost purposeful confusion,” said Tammie Pursley of the Mesa branch of the AEA.
Pursley claims her branch has had dozens of phone calls from people confusing the two groups. The groups have similar abbreviations, and a Google search of the ATA pulls up the AEA website.
“We’ve had members….questioning why are we endorsing Russell Pearce. Our own members are confused and they are the ones that know we are the Arizona Education Association. So the public is going to be very confused,” said Pursley.
When the signs first surfaced last week, there were reports that the ATA might be a phantom organization created solely to endorse Pearce. The ATA is a political action committee formed in March by citizens who tout education reform, and endorse a number of conservative candidates.
ATA treasurer Caroline Condit, a former Tea Party candidate, claims the organization has teachers as members.
“When you say teacher, I go by the strict definition of what a teacher is, so it’s not just a classroom teacher in the school,” said Condit.
Condit says the ATA is not intentionally trying to mislead voters.
“They need to do their homework,” said Condit, “There is no problem from my perspective with having someone say I’m going to look into that. What is the ATA?”
Doug Kilgore, the media spokesperson for the AEA thinks voters will have time to educate themselves before they head to the polls.
“The AEA has thousands of members across the state, and the ATA was just put together. I think people will realize the difference,” said Kilgore.
The ATA says the Pearce campaign is not connected to the endorsement signs. Requests to interview Russell Pearce went unanswered.