Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has some explaining to do after reports surfaced revealing the staunch “Back the Blue” advocate campaigned with a violent offender under federal investigation for trying to have an FBI informant killed in a murder plot for hire.
On her campaign website, the ultra-MAGA candidate praises law enforcement and condemns calls by police reform advocates to “defund the police.”
“Arizona’s next governor must #BackTheBlue. They put their lives on the line for us, making sure they know how much we honor and respect that commitment is the least we can do.”
“This awful, insidious ‘defund the police’ movement needs to be stopped in its tracks. There is a direct correlation between this movement and the explosion of violent crime happening across the country. The leaders of this effort have proven time and again they don’t care about poor people, or people of color – if they did they wouldn’t ignore and excuse the horrific gang violence spreading through our cities that disproportionately damages poor and minority communities. It is not compassionate or just to leave good people at the mercy of criminals,” Lake’s website states.
According to The Daily Beast, the head of a “Latino Engagement” initiative for Lake, convicted felon Kenneth Ulibarri, also pled guilty to battery against a peace officer.
On June 29, 2015, a Sealed Memorandum Opinion and Order was filed in the District Court of New Mexico – Ulibarri’s home state – seeking an adjustment under the sentencing guidelines from 15 points to eight and the removal of the former drug dealer’s arrest for the distribution of heroin from a paragraph under “Other Arrests” stemming from a case going back nearly four years leading to the murder-for-hire plot.
“Ulibarri claimed in his agreement that he had not been serious about the murder plot, but was only using it to try to get more money out of his supposed heroin client,” The Daily Beast reports.
In June 2011, the FBI launched an investigation into the drug trafficking activities of Christopher Roybal – Kenneth Ulibarri’s uncle. Codenamed “Operation Rain Check,” the 16-month federal investigation led to a 19-person indictment, including Ulibarri’s brother Jonathan in 2012. “Operation Rain Check involved numerous investigative techniques, including multiple controlled purchases of kilogram-quantities of cocaine and marijuana using CHS-2,” the motion states.
Roybal pled guilty in February 2015, receiving a 14-year sentence, the Department of Justice wrote
“According to the original indictment, Roybal and ten others conspired to distribute large quantities of cocaine in New Mexico between Aug. 2011 and Dec. 2012. It further alleged that Roybal and nine others conspired to distribute marijuana between Oct. 2011 and Dec. 2012.”
Two years after hiring a hitman to kill CHS1, a separate criminal probe was opened against Lake’s Latino Engagement manager.
“After the takedown for Operation Rain Check, one of the co-defendants in that case (“CHS-1”) agreed to cooperate with the United States. As part of CHS-1’s cooperation, CHS-1 executed numerous controlled purchases of drugs with a variety of targets, including K. Ulibarri. In May 2014, the FBI began a separate investigation into K. Ulibarri’s drug-trafficking activities. On May 5, 2014, CHS-1 approached K. Ulibarri to buy illegal drugs from him. K. Ulibarri offered to sell CHS-1 methamphetamine and heroin. During that conversation, K. Ulibarri also told CHS-1 that he and several other people were interested in hiring a ‘hitman’ to kill CHS-2.”
Ulibarri, whose run-ins with law enforcement go back more than a decade, admitted to the plot. “In May 2014, I met with a confidential source (CHS1) to discuss selling heroin to CHS1. In those meetings, I told CHS1 that I and some others were hiring a hitman to kill another confidential source (CHS2) for $20,000,” Ulibarri wrote in his agreement, noting that “CHS2” was a “testifying cooperator” in the trial, The Daily Beast reported.
Kari Lake has campaigned on a platform of “law and order” – echoing her hero ex-President Donald Trump – backing the blue and securing the border.
It’s the exact opposite of what Kenneth Ulibarri has done – spending $2000 in campaign dollars as payment to the attempted killer, with a history of running afoul of the law and targeting law enforcement for murder.
Going back to 1997, Ulibarri was convicted of receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in 2002, felony marijuana possession in 2004 – as well as committing an offense while on probation for a 2012 conviction – “his total offense level of 23 and criminal-history category of IV results in a Guideline imprisonment range of 70 to 87 months.”
Lake, the former Fox-affiliate host and Republican gubernatorial candidate, once wrote, “Violent drug cartels control large swaths of the U.S.-Mexico border and are moving record amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, khat, and the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl2 into communities throughout Arizona and the United States.”
The newsflash for Kari Lake is that with Ulibarri on board – the call is coming from inside the house…or campaign.
So much for Back the Blue, Ms. Lake.
Original reporting by Igor Derysh at Salon.
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