A Latina women's group plans to protest the candidacy of Paul Penzone for Maricopa County sheriff due to his involvement in a domestic violence incident nine years ago.
The Tequila Party claims Penzone is unfit to become sheriff – or even run for the office – due to the 2003 incident.
According to police reports, Penzone – who, at the time, was a Phoenix police sergeant – called Glendale police to report he'd been hit by his then-estranged wife. Penzone said he and his son had gone to his wife's house to get some hockey equipment for their son's hockey practice.
After his wife went inside her house to retrive the hockey equipment, she brought it outside and put it on the ground. At that point, as Penzone bent over to pick it up, he told officers that his wife used one of the hockey sticks to hit him in the face. He had a small contusion on his cheek.
When interviewed by police, his estranged wife told the officer that as she was walking into the house, Penzone pushed her into a doorway, causing her to strike her forehead. She had a small bruise on her forehead.
Because of the "he said - she said" nature of the call, the lack of serious injuries, and a feeling by officers that Penzone – who was listed on the report as the victim – was not in further danger, officers declined to make any arrests.
Dee Dee Garcia Blase of the Tequila Party says the situation is unacceptable. She claims Glendale officers ignored the state's "mandatory arrest" law concerning domestic violence in an effort to protect a fellow police officer.
She says her group will "call out" any politician accused of domestic violence. She noted that the Tequila Party also called for the resignation of then-state senator Scott Bundgaard, a Republican, after he was accused of domestic violence against his then-girlfriend.
Penzone is a Democrat.
Meanwhile, Garcia Blase wrote an opinion piece in the Tucson Citizen endorsing Scottsdale Police Lieutenant Mike Stauffer, an independent candidate for sheriff. In her interview with KFYI News about the Tequila Party's protest of Paul Penzone, Garcia Blase said the domestic violence incident isn't the Tequila Party's only beef with Penzone: "He has no leadership experience. He was a mere sergeant."
Responding to the call for a protest, Penzone's campaign says it's a non-issue. Campaign spokeswoman Stacy Pearson points out that Penzone went public with the information several weeks ago in the interest of transparency, and to prevent any of his opponents from bringing it up on their own.
Pearson points out that Penzone initiated the call to police, and his estranged wife never pursued charges against him.
She adds that since Garcia Blase of the Tequila Party is a supporter of one of Penzone's opponents, whose campaign "is getting no traction and no endorsements, (the campaign) is using this now in an attempt to take out the front-runner who can beat (Sheriff Joe) Arpaio."
In an interview with the Phoenix New Times after first publicizing the incident, Penzone said he has never laid a hand on a woman and never would do so.