The author of Arizona’s draconian immigration law, state Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ), has long faced criticism for cozying up to local neo-Nazis, namely J.T. Ready — a former City Council candidate who he endorsed in 2006. Since then, Pearce has adamantly denied any connection to Ready or any other white nationalists, telling Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix News Times, “The most radical group/association I have ever belonged to is the Boy Scouts of America and the Fraternal Order of Police.”
However, Lemons has posted a video on his blog which provides some incriminating evidence of Pearce’s nativist ties. Lemons has already reported that Pearce ordained Ready as an “elder” in the Mormon church — an action described as typically being reserved for close family members. The video expands upon their relationship through old footage featuring Pearce expressing his support for Ready and calling him a “true patriot.” The video additionally features a one-on-one interview with Ready himself who admits that he served as a “bell weather” for Pearce to test “how can we push the bar a little bit further.” Ready also told Lemons that he and Pearce exchanged racist jokes about Mexicans on Pearce’s porch.
Watch the video:
Though Pearce has tamed his rhetoric in front of the public eye, the information provided in Lemons’ video doesn’t come as a surprise. Last month, at an event hosted by Judicial Watch, Pearce compared undocumented immigrants to an enemy invasion, Hurricane Katrina, and mad cow disease. He also joked that President Obama “may not be visiting Arizona because we actually require papers now.”
Pearce responded to the video posted by Lemons stating, “That is a complete LIE. No such swapping of jokes and I never knew about any of his [Ready’s] dealing until you exposed them. I do not understand his motives for such statements.”
However, Lemons has pointed out that in the past that Pearce was privately warned about Ready’s racist beliefs by at least one person — Bill Straus, regional director of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League, who claims to have met with Pearce and given him a file on neo-Nazis and other racists flocking to his anti-immigrant cause. “It’s hard for me to fathom,” Straus told Lemons, “that after a one-on-one meeting with me — and all the press J.T. got — that [Pearce] was unaware of what he was and what he stood for.”
Ready, who once proclaimed, “This is a white, European homeland. That’s how it should be preserved if we want to keep it clean, safe, and pure,” claims to have quit the National Socialist Movement to focus on the border and his personal life. He has started spearheading a heavily armed, self-styled militia called Ready’s Rangers which patrols the U.S.-Mexico border for drug traffickers and undocumented immigrants.