Lea Marquez-Peterson is almost everywhere a business and political social climber could possibly want to be. She is the executive director of the Greater Tucson Leadership, chairwoman of Pima County’s Small Business Commission, a member of the city’s Convention Center Commission, and past president and member of the board of the local chapter of National Association of Women Owned Business.
She is an expert, chosen for the exclusive citizen’s panel of the Regional Transportation Authority, which will determine the next countywide transportation scheme and the sales tax to pay for it. The Arizona Daily Star selected her to quiz political candidates three years ago, and she continues to be a go-to person for the Star on many matters of business. Fortune further boosted her image with an article quoting her on management styles in the publication’s May 2002 Small Business Issue.
35, she has two business degrees, a pile of awards and friends in high places.
After serving on the Greater Tucson Leadership board, Marquez-Peterson became its executive director in February. “As a leader in the Tucson community, Lea is a great match for our organization,” said Jean McKnight Guymon, then the group’s president.
The press release about that appointment asserted that Peterson “is a successful business leader.”
Those snippets reflected the common, conventional takes in 2005 about Marquez-Peterson as reported in a 2005 Tucson Weekly story.
Now, 13 years later, Marquez-Peterson is running for the US House of Representatives Arizona CD2 seat. And she still touts her creds as a savvy business woman. Here is what she claims about herself on her campaign web site.
Lea Marquez Peterson is a lifelong conservative Republican and a passionate, active community leader with a proven record of delivering results in both the private and public sectors.
Since 2009, Lea has served as President & CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She previously served as the Executive Director for Greater Tucson Leadership (GTL) from 2005 to 2009.
An entrepreneur and small business owner, Lea previously owned and operated a chain of gasoline stations & convenience stores in the Tucson region.
She goes on to list numerous awards.
Sounds good? A tough competitor in the fiscal conservative mold? A seasoned and successful Latina business woman?
Larry Bodine in this morning’s Blog for Arizona alerts us to another side of Marquez-Peterson and a different history she does not admit: GOP Congress Candidate Lea “Chapter 7” Peterson Squirms on Trump Question. There’s actually a lot more to Marquez-Peterson than is suggested by Larry’s title. He reviews an MSNBC interview and then resurrects some facts reported in the 2005 story (by Chris Limberis, Tucson Weekly) on another side of Marquez-Peterson’s “successful business.” She and her husband racked up a laundry list of financial woes, Limberis reported in Running on Empty. Touted as a business leader and expert, Lea Marquez-Peterson finds herself bankrupt with millions in debt.
… [By the time their] lawyer filed the bankruptcy notice, the couple had built up more than $3.2 million in debt and reported $104,477 in assets.
Much of that debt came from the collapse of that “chain of gasoline stations & convenience stores” and its associated loans.
… But not all of the debt was for business or education.
Some of the debt was in the form of over $64,000 in credit card debt and over $100,000 in unpaid taxes.
When I see numbers like that, I think out of control.
Marquez-Peterson and her husband also owe $32,919 in Bank of America credit card debt, $13,036 in Wells Fargo credit card debt, $8,244 on a Citibank Platinum card, and $5,889 to Bank One. One of the smallest consumer debts listed is $217 to Bill Me Later of Omaha, Neb.
Four Marquez-Peterson companies–American Retail Corp., the Marquez-Peterson Group, Marquez-Peterson II and Valle Verde Partners–owe the Internal Revenue Service a total of $93,978, according to the bankruptcy file. The IRS had filed nine liens against Marquez-Peterson and her husband. The city, according to documents at the Pima County Recorder’s Office, filed liens for back sales taxes totaling more than $13,000..
She hasn’t given up some of her necessities, like the cell phone and BlackBerry ($150 a month, according to bankruptcy papers).
You can find out more about Marquez-Peterson’s bankruptcy in the Tucson Weekly report and Larry Bodine has a succinct breakdown of the 3.2 million.
Getting back to the MSNBC interview that triggered Marquez-Peterson’s “squirms” …
“Thank you for having me,” she opened to Kaisie Hunt on May 20. And some would judge the subsequent answers as being had. Following are reactions from Larry Bodine.
She played dumb when it came to Trump’s pardon of convicted ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio. “I really don’t have a position on President Trump’s pardoning of Sheriff Joe.”
[Hey, hey, Lea! Jailor Joe] Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey court orders to stop his immigration roundups based on racially profiling Hispanic people.
… She defended Trump’s calling immigrants as “animals,” because she said he was referring to gang members from Mexico.
[On the other hand] She said she’d likely support a discharge effort in House of Representatives to force a vote on legislation to support Dreamers.
Unfortunately, none of this is going to matter. Commenter “Liza” responded to Larry’s post:
She’s the leader of the GOP pack in fundraising having raised $502,028 with $427,582 cash on hand as of 03/31/2018. I suspect she’ll be the GOP nominee, no one else has any money.
I wonder if her donors know about the $3.2 million Chapter 7 story. Or perhaps they don’t care. In the age of Trump it’s OK to go broke as long as it’s with other people’s money.