Did This Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Embellish Her Military And Legal Experience?

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

If you listen to past statements made by Christine Jones, you might come away with the impression that the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona is a former Los Angeles prosecutor. You might also think she is an Air Force veteran.

The problem: Neither of those things are 100 percent true.

Jones, a political newcomer and former general counsel of web hosting company GoDaddy.com, is facing political attacks over statements about her work experience that don’t appear to line up completely with her past.

Her campaign contests that she ever misled about her background. But spokeswoman Anna Haberlein acknowledged to The Daily Caller: “Christine isn’t a practiced politician; she hasn’t dedicated her life to parsing every word.”

Take Jones’ testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on online sales of prescription drugs in 2008. Jones, speaking in her capacity of general counsel of GoDaddy.com, said: “I can tell you when I was a prosecutor, a vast, vast majority of the cases I tried [were] drug cases.”

“I tried cases in Compton,” Jones elaborated. “You may have heard of it before. It’s an area outside of Los Angeles. Lots of drug users. You know, we always had a theory that if we didn’t get a guy the first time, that was ok. Because he was going to be back.”

Jones, however, has never been a paid employee of the Los Angeles District Attorney Office or even been admitted to the bar in California. But she was a certified law clerk that helped the D.A.’s office prosecute cases in the nineties.

A third party group that supports Jones’ Republican primary rival Doug Ducey is now running ads attacking her for her prosecutor comments, questioning her truthfulness.

But Jones’ campaign stands by her comments that she was a prosecutor in California.

“The fact is Christine Jones served as a Certified Law Clerk in the mid-90s in Los Angeles in one of the most dangerous communities in the nation,” Jones spokeswoman Haberlein told TheDC. “She prosecuted felony preliminary hearings, misdemeanor trials and even sat second chair in the Lamar Barnwell death penalty trial. The recent attack ad asserts that Christine was not an employee of the LA District Attorney’s Office when in fact she was an unpaid Certified Law Clerk and prosecuted cases.”

Jones’ legal background is not the only work claim that has been questioned. In an interview last year, Jones appeared to claim that she had served in the Air Force.

The truth is that she was never actually in the service, though she did take part in the Air Force ROTC while at the University of Oklahoma. The Department of Defense has no record of Jones ever serving in the Air Force, according to a FOIA request provided to The Daily Caller by one critic.

On the Copper Talk political podcast last year, Jones described how she went off to the University of Oklahoma with plans to join the Air Force and become an astronaut but vision problems stopped her.

“As I said, I went off to be in the Air Force. And I met a really nice guy at church who was also in the Air Force and he and I got married.”

Speaking of the Air Force, Jones explained: “I got out, he stayed in.”

Her campaign spokeswoman said to TheDC on Friday that “Christine has never claimed to be a commissioned officer in the Air Force; she went to the University of Oklahoma to join the Air Force and was a cadet in AFROTC. Less-than-perfect vision prevented her from attaining her goal of flying planes in the Air Force and she got out of the AFROTC, embarking on a different career path.”

“When she says she got out,” Haberlein explained, “she is most certainly referring to the AFROTC and the pursuit of a military career. She has never claimed otherwise. As the wife of a career military officer, Christine has nothing but the highest respect and gratitude for our servicemen and women.”

Jones’ website has a page dedicated to her past work, which describes her work experience more precisely: In 1986, according to the timeline, Jones “Joined Air Force ROTC at the University of Oklahoma.” From 1994 to 1997, the timeline says Jones “Served as a Certified Law Clerk for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.”

Questions have been raised before in local press about whether Jones has tried to hide one part of her past: The Arizona Republic reported last year that the Republican was arrested in 2004 for a DUI under the name “Christine E. Jones.” But in 2009, she had her named changed to “Christine N. Jones.”

Her campaign explained that change to the newspaper by saying, “Christine used her maiden name as her middle name professionally for the past 20 years. And for Social Security and health insurance uniformity, she finally got around to formally changing her middle name to her maiden name.”

In response to these questions about Jones’ past, her campaign took aim at opponent Ducey, the state treasurer, in a statement to TheDC.

“It’s not surprising to see that Doug Ducey and his mysterious dark money backers are already manufacturing lies about Christine Jones,” Haberlein said. “The Ducey campaign is mired near last place and that’s what happens when you sense your best-laid plans are slipping away and voters are moving toward an unapologetic conservative like Christine.”

Early voting in the race begins July 31. Polls show the crowded Republican race to be wide-open with no clear frontrunner.

Follow Alex on Twitter

Tags : arizona
Alex Pappas