Something that jumped out at us in that story about Brett Mecum, the Arizona GOP executive director charged with using the party’s voter registration database to stalk a woman: the bizarre response from Mecum’s boss.
Here’s what party chair Randy Pullen, who is also the treasurer of the Republican National Committee, told an Arizona political site about the claim that Mecum had used Voter Vault to find the woman’s address:
The Republican National Committee owns Voter Vault … It’s a private list. We own the list. We can do what we want with the list, quite frankly.
It’s a felony to use a voter registration database for anything other than official purposes.
In Arizona, it can get you a couple years of prison time, according to The Huffington Post.
Pullen appears to have backed off that stance. Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the Arizona GOP told TPMmuckraker: “The chairman has the utmost respect for that data, and we would never ever use it for anything other than what it was intended to be used for.” Roberts claimed, implausibly, that in the earlier quote, Pullen meant that the RNC could do what it wanted with the data in using it to turn people out for elections.
But HuffPo also reports that, according to several Arizona GOP women, Pullen refused even to meet with them to discuss their allegations of sexual harassment against Mecum.
But perhaps it’s not surprising that Pullen would be reluctant to hold Mecum — who has a history of run-ins with the law — accountable for his behavior. Pullen has been instrumental in Mecum’s career, bringing him to Arizona and promoting him to be the party’s executive director. Indeed, so protective has the party chair been of Mecum that as Mecum was being arrested for driving 109 mph earlier this year, he was heard to shout “Get the chairman!,” according to the Arizona Republic.
According to news reports, in February 2007, a month after being elected state party chair, Pullen hired the 28 year old Mecum, a New York native who had founded an Albany-based political consulting firm, as communications director. Pullen praised Mecum’s “wealth of communication and political experience.” Later that year, Mecum was made political director, and in February 2009, he was named executive director.
Pullen sang Mecum’s praises at the time:
Brett has proven time and again that he has the abilities and talents to do the job of executive director effectively. He’s earned the confidence of party activists and Republican elected officials throughout the state. I think he is the right person to help move the Republican Party forward through the 2010 election cycle and I look forward to working with him over the next two years.
Pullen appears to have stuck by his protege when the speeding arrest occurred in May. “Brett has done a good job for the AZGOP and the chairman believes it’ll be the same going forward,” a spokesman for the state party said at the time (via Nexis).
It’s not unusual, of course, for a state party chair and his executive director to have a close relationship. But in this case, it looks like the ties between the two men may have played a key role in enabling Mecum’s misbehavior.
The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Nick Pinto