The Arizona Republican Party (AZGOP) released a statement Tuesday slamming Maricopa County Attorney (MCA) Democratic candidate Julie Gunnigle for an “anti-cop attitude” and hiring staff members who have previously opposed police.
“Violent crime is on the rise across Arizona as a direct result of Democratic Leadership at the local and county level. Statistics and common-sense logic support a clear conclusion: Soft on crime messaging and coddling criminals DOES NOT WORK,” said Arizona GOP Political Director Jeremiah Cota in a press release.
On Gunnigle’s website, where she outlines her plans for the office, there is a section about holding police accountable. Her goal would be to create an independent division within her office that would handle cases related to police shootings, use of force, and brutality. This unit would be separate from other prosecutors and have community involvement. She said her goal is to return “ethics and independence” to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and to represent “the people of Maricopa County, not special interest police unions.” Gunnigle also advocates dismissing low-level drug offenses, reducing incarceration, and a no-prosecution stance on cases of unlawful abortions.
Moreover, Axios reported that Gunnigle had refused money from police unions to avoid a “conflict of interests”; however, she has accepted money from Planned Parenthood, which required fund recipients to turn down any support from the police. When asked if she supported defunding the police, Gunnigle did not give a straight answer, instead saying it is a “distraction from the real issues.” Gunnigle has also reportedly taken money from leftist billionaire George Soros.
Gunnigle will face Republican incumbent Rachel Mitchell for the MCA position in November, following the resignation of MCA Allister Adel in March.
“Unlike Soros’ disciple Julie Gunnigle, current Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell (R) dedicates her office to respecting and working with the police,” said Cota, concluding his statement.
Bruce Franks Jr.
Aside from Gunnigle herself, she hires staff who are proponents of defunding the police, including her campaign manager, Bruce Franks Jr.
AZ Free News reported that Franks is a former rapper and Missouri state legislator surrounded by controversies of his own. Past tweets from Franks show that he is blatantly anti-police, and in one Facebook post from 2021, he said, “Yes, we can live in a world with out [sic] police, yes we can reimagine what public safety truly is.” Other tweets from Franks contain homophobic and misogynistic language.
#AZPOL news from me:
The campaign manager for a George Soros-funded Democrat running for District Attorney in Arizona's Maricopa County has an extensive history of homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-cop rhetoric
Join me for a wild ride.
— Matthew Foldi (@MatthewFoldi) September 8, 2022
Franks released an apology video touting that he had undergone a personal transformation since making the inappropriate remarks. However, he does not mention that his views on the police have changed.
Here is my statement on my personal transformation and addressing statements made over a decade ago. I will continue to make amends and grow! ❤️Love and Rigor pic.twitter.com/IjNVpiHNZ8
— Bruce Franks Jr (@brucefranksjr) September 10, 2022
Gunnigle tweeted a response to the video accepting Franks’s apology without condemning his past actions.
Franks resigned from his legislative position in 2019, just months before a probe found he used thousands of dollars from his campaign fund on personal expenses without filing a proper report with the ethics committee.
Gunnigle’s campaign spokesperson, Dawn Penich-Thacker, has also previously spoken out against the police.
FoxNews.com reported that Penich-Thacker called Arizona police officers a “national embarrassment” and “a menace” to community members. She also accused the Tempe Police Department of having a culture of “misconduct, negligence, abuse of power, and murder” following the 2019 officer-involved shooting of 14-year-old Antonio Arce. She previously volunteered as a Tempe Police Department citizen review board member.
Penich-Thacker told FoxNews.com that Gunnigle does not have a platform to defund the police and, even if elected, would have no role in law enforcement budget allocation.
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