Cardinals, Diamondbacks owners help fund controversial ad in county attorney’s race

The owners of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals donated to a group that created a controversial ad targeting Democrat Julie Gunnigle.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 8:07 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Conflict on the campaign trail over a political sign attacking Maricopa County Attorney Democrat candidate Julie Gunnigle and her campaign manager. Gunnigle supporters say the ad is blatantly racist and sleazy, and the group behind it is heavily funded by the Arizona Cardinals’ and Diamondbacks’ owners.

What has Gunnigle’s campaign so angry is this ad uses a large mugshot of her campaign manager, who is Black. That mugshot is for charges from the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests that were later dismissed.

So, they say not only is this ad wrong, but it’s ironic it’s being used in a race for this position. “Racism. Let’s call it what it is. Those signs are racist,” said Gunnigle.

Gunnigle is going to bat for her campaign manager Bruce Franks Jr., whose mugshot is featured largely on a political sign against Gunnigle, saying she has poor judgment because her manager was arrested for a slew of charges over 2020 protests.

But those charges were all dismissed. “It was the 39 people who were drawn into high-level felony charges that have since been dismissed, and it was largely for a gang that was wholly invented by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department,” Gunnigle said. “They’re playing into the trope of the dangerous Black man. That’s why the PAC chose to use that image.”

While the wrongdoing was during Allister Adel’s time as county attorney, the group behind the ad ‘Arizona Liberty Coalition’ is supporting current county attorney Rachel Mitchell’s campaign, who is seeking to win a full term.

That coalition has been largely funded by two well-known names — Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick with $150,000 to the PAC, and Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill with $25,000 to the group, helping fund an ad like this.

“The fact that they got caught doing something that is so blatant and so out of line with what the majority of voters of the county believe, I think that’s the part that’s most surprising out of this whole story,” said Gunnigle. She said the signs’ locations have been concentrated around Franks Jr’s home, further targeting him and his family.

Arizona’s Family asked Rachel Mitchell’s campaign about the signs, given the coalition is supporting her campaign. Her team sent Arizona’s Family this statement:

“We don’t condone the signs, frankly, is not nearly enough. There needs to be a full-throated repudiation of this, and the sentiment behind this needs to come from the county attorney, and then I think the county attorney should refund the contributions that did come from the individuals involved in this PAC,” said Gunnigle.

Arizona’s Family reached out to the Arizona Cardinals and Diamondbacks, asking for statements about this from their owners but did not hear back from either team. We also reached out to the Arizona Liberty Coalition to ask their response to Mitchell’s team wanting the signs to come down, but we haven’t heard back.