Yesterday, J.T. Ready, a neo-Nazi and member of the anti-immigrant Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, reportedly strapped on body armor, grabbed several firearms, and then killed four people in Gilbert, Arizona. One of the dead is a toddler. Ready also was killed in this incident, although reports vary on whether he took his own life. At the time of his death, Ready was running for Pinal County sheriff.
Ready’s beliefs were extreme even among extremists. In 2007, for example, he wrote that illegal immigration occurs because “negroids screw monkeys and rape babies in afreaka [sic]. Then stupid white man who licks kosher jew rear lets negroids in.” Yet Ready traveled surprisingly close to the center of power in his state. Ready claims he was a protégé to former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R), the author of Arizona’s harsh immigration law who was recently removed from office in a recall election, and there is ample documentation that the two men knew each other and that Pearce once supported Ready politically.
Pearce and Ready’s relationship stretches back at least to 2004, when Pearce ordained Ready as an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. By 2006, when Ready ran for Mesa City Council — a campaign that sputtered after the public learned that Ready was once court-martialed and kicked out of the Marine Corps — he received Pearce’s endorsement. Ready also claims that he was with Pearce’s son Josh when Josh Pearce got a tattoo of an iron eagle with a swastika on his neck and chest, but that he also talked Josh out of joining a skinhead group.
Pearce later tried to distance himself from Ready, but Ready insisted as recently as last year that Pearce was a seminal figure in his life. In an interview with a local Fox station, Ready called Pearce “a surrogate father” who “enlightened him,” that they spent time together at Pearce’s cabin, and that they were “around each other quite a bit.” In the same local news segment, Pearce admits that he had an association with Ready, but denies that it was as close as Ready suggests. Watch it:
Ready is dead, and Pearce obviously has an interest in downplaying his relationship with Ready if a deep bond did once exist between the men. So it may never be known with certainty whether Pearce was the father figure Ready claims he was. Ready, however, does admit to one divide between him and the former Arizona senator. He claims that Pearce taught him to stay “more covert” for “long term strategy aims,” but Ready ultimately chose to ignore this advice.
Pearce released a statement further distancing himself from Ready:
Regarding whether I knew JT Ready, I did, as did many of us who have been involved in Mesa politics for a long time. When we first met JT he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person. He worked as a telephone fundraiser for Christian and pro-life groups, he dated the daughter of one of our District 18 members, and his attitudes and spoken opinions were good and decent. At some point in time darkness took his life over, his heart changed, and he began to associate with the more despicable groups in society. They were intolerant and hateful and like so many who knew him from before, I was upset and disappointed at the choices he was making. I worked with others to have him removed from his local position within our Republican Party because there has never been and will never be any room in our Party or our lives for those preaching hatred. He was angry with me and stayed angry with me, and it has been several years since I have had reason to speak with JT.
In the past several years the local media has worked hard to try to tie me to the JT Ready that preached hate, and that is nothing more than a lie.