Former Maricopa Prosecutor Andrew Thomas is running for Governor of Arizona.
His commercial vying for the Republican ticket is currently airing. We asked him to explain some of the claims made in the ad.
The ad states, "Conservatives are backing Andrew Thomas for governor because he's the only candidate who has stopped illegal immigration."
That is a bold claim in the light of the nation's ongoing immigration debate. But make no mistake about it, Thomas does have a history of targeting undocumented immigrants.
As the Maricopa County Attorney, he ardently supported SB1070. Then worked hand-in-hand with Sheriff Joe Arpaio to pursue and prosecute undocumented immigrants.
Those tactics ranged from traffic stops to business raids, and ultimately spawned allegations of racial profiling by the federal government.
“Stood up to the gay lobby,” the ad states.
Thomas told the ABC15 Investigators that this claim refers to his support of the controversial senate bill 1062 also called, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
1062 was met with a firestorm of opposition and was vetoed by Governor Brewer.
While its architects called it a religious freedom bill, critics across the country call it an anti-gay bill.
“And opposed liberal judges," the ad states.
Thomas told us he "opposed liberal judges" in court and consequently, they went after him stripping him of his license to practice law.
The reality is Thomas was disbarred after being investigated by multiple agencies for abuse of power and prosecutorial misconduct.
That included the FBI.
Ultimately, it was a three member panel appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court that recommended Thomas have his law license revoked.
They said he "outrageously exploited power, flagrantly fostered fear ... And gracefully disgraced the law" while targeting his own political opponents.
"Vote Andrew Thomas for governor, before it's too late,” the ad states.
Bottom line? Andrew Thomas is as defiant as he is controversial. He still calls his disbarment, “a witch hunt”, although he declined to fight it.
Q&A with Andrew Thomas
The commercial says, “Conservatives are backing Andrew Thomas for governor because he's the only candidate who has stopped illegal immigration, stood up to the gay lobby, and opposed liberal judges."
Question: What do you mean by “opposed liberal judges”?
Answer: In the fall of 2007, I spoke out when Maricopa County judges and court staff were refusing to enforce Prop 100, a measure passed by Arizona voters which ended the right to bail for illegal immigrants accused of serious felonies. By exposing these liberal shenanigans, I drew the ire of the courts, and they commenced five years of nonstop judicial investigations targeting my law license. My actions were proof of real political courage on my part and raw liberal activism in our courts. (Sources: See media coverage of Prop 100 controversy and resulting string of State Bar investigations at urging of judiciary starting in fall of 2007; see also discussion of "Attacks on Andrew" at www.voteandrewthomas.com
Question: How or in what way did you stand up to the gay lobby?
Answer: I'm the only candidate for Governor who supported SB 1062, a bill that would have protected religious freedom and all Arizonans from frivolous gay-rights lawsuits. This bill was simply an attempt to write into state law the existing federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, efforts that were mischaracterized. Rush Limbaugh called the pressure to veto SB 1062 "bullying" by the "homosexual lobby." (Sources: Associated Press and ABC 15/KNXV, 2/22/14; AZ Republic, 2/25/14; Rush Limbaugh show, 2/24/14)
Question: How did you stop illegal immigration?
Answer: During my tenure as Maricopa County Attorney, I worked with the legislature, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others to pass and enforce tough laws against illegal immigration. As a result of these actions, illegal immigrants left the state in large numbers. (Sources: numerous media accounts of illegal immigrants leaving Arizona beginning in 2007, including reports on ABC15/KNXV)