Jeff Biggers reports:
As President Obama and congressional leaders wrangled over the debt ceiling last Saturday evening, Russell Pearce, Arizona’s controversial state Senate president, turned to Facebook to express his own personal outrage.
“Folks,” he wrote, “if there was ever an argument for NO to raising the debt limit and YES to stop the reckless socialist spending in this Gangster Government in DC. Watch this video.”
The video showed an “Elaborate Welfare Housing Project” built for “illegal immigrants” and funded through alleged “refugee pay.”
Just one problem: The five-month-old viral video — which was created by a far-right gadfly from Tacoma, Wash. — had already been thoroughly debunked by the Tacoma News Tribune. By Sunday morning, Pearce had deleted the post from his Facebook site.
But this was hardly the first time that Pearce, whose ultraconservative immigration views have won him national attention and who will face a historic recall election in his Arizona district on Nov. 8, associates himself with the work of a fringe character.
For several years, media outlets in Arizona and at the national level have explored links between Pearce and extremist groups, and in 2006 he was caught circulating a Holocaust-denying article from a West Virginia-based white supremacist group. In issuing an apology, Pearce claimed to not have known about the National Alliance’s views.
But a new examination of Pearce’s website and public statements reveals that the self-proclaimed architect of Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law has regularly borrowed significant portions of text from the writings of hard-line white nationalists, fringe anti-immigrant activists, and others whose views far fall outside the mainstream and presented them as his own.