PHOENIX - State Republican Party officials charged Friday that someone helping the governor's reelection stole campaign materials, but conceded the thief - if there was a thief -could just as easily have been one of their own workers.
Napolitano aides admit someone - they say they don't know who -dropped off the document earlier this week. And they also said that, believing it had been mailed, they used that document to
seek extra funds to counter it from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
But Taylor said the document, one of about 181,000 identical pieces that has been in the locker behind GOP headquarters for weeks, never was mailed. He said party officials learned of the missing paper when they got a copy of Napolitano's request for cash.
That, said Taylor, led to calling Phoenix police Thursday night.
"We believe that somebody associated with the Napolitano For Governor campaign stole this property from the Arizona Republican Party,'' Taylor charged Friday.
But Taylor acknowledged there is no evidence the storage locker had been broken into, or that the lock had been damaged. He said, though, "less than five people'' have access to the key, including party workers and companies that do business with the party.
"If the intimation is that this was somehow an inside party job, we want to get to the bottom of that,'' Taylor said. If nothing else, he said, "it will answer the question of how the Napolitano campaign obtained our property.''
Taylor said, though, once the Napolitano campaign got the document it should have realized it was stolen. And attorney Jack LaSota, who represents the party, said the Napolitano camp compounded the problem by filing a sworn document with the Clean Elections Commission stating the piece had been mailed and seeking the matching funds.
Andy Gordon, the lawyer for the Napolitano campaign who made that request, defended his action.
"It looks like a piece of real mail to me,'' he said, noting it has the address of a Tucson recipient and a bulk mail permit. Nor did he believe that the method by which it showed up made it suspicious.
"We ask people to bring stuff by and give it to us all the time,'' Gordon said. "We're trying to find out what's going on.''
Gordon said the original of the document is in his office and police are free to examine it. But he said that, by now, it has the fingerprints of several Napolitano campaign workers - as well as his.
The issue is clouded over the fact the mailers, printed weeks ago, never were sent out. That is because of fears the Napolitano campaign would do what it did: Seek to boost its own funding.
Both Napolitano and Republican Len Munsil received $680,774 in public financing for their campaigns. But state law says if an outsider spends money on behalf of a publicly funded candidate, the foe gets an equal amount.
Republicans believed this mailer was exempt because the law exempt political parties when campaign materials tout at least three candidates. And one of the four pages included info on not only Munsil but also Bill Montgomery, running for attorney general, and Arizona Corporation Commission hopeful Gary Pierce.
That, however, was before the Clean Elections Commission decided in another case that the opposing candidate still could get partial funds. As a result, the mailers stayed put - and Taylor said there was no intent to save them for a last-minute "hit'' piece when it would be too late for Napolitano to get matching funds.