6/25/2010

June 25, 2010 |

'Flawed' hopeful seeks Congress seat
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Valley & State

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by M ichael Ferraresi - Jun. 25, 2010 12:00 AM The Arizona Republic
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Mark Spinks hoped his indecent-exposure conviction would never surface as an obstacle in his pursuit of the Republican nomination in Congressional District 5. But since it came out, the 39-year-old political rookie said he plans to encourage voters to overlook his personal embarrassments and see him as an average American with the political passion to take on "over-intrusive government" and more seasoned Republican candidates. Spinks pleaded no contest to the 2005 charge after two women in his exclusive Ahwatukee neighborhood reported seeing him standing nude in his open garage multiple times in view of nearby families. In one incident, the candidate "stood totally nude staring at (the victim) until she looked away," according to the Phoenix police report. The women described his posture as an intentional attempt to be seen. One feared her 4-year-old daughter would notice the naked man across the street. Spinks claimed he's openly discussed his past legal issues - including an impaired-driving charge from more than 10 years ago in Scottsdale - as experiences residents could relate to when they file their primary ballots in August. "My goal is not to hide from my mistakes and act like these papier-mâché politicians," said Spinks, a Realtor and father of two children who were home at the time of his arrest. "One of the things I want to prove and put out there in this race is that you don't have to be this polished, perfect elitist to work in Washington," he said. "You can be flawed." The indecent-exposure charge led to a 30-day suspended jail sentence and three years' probation, which Spinks claimed he would have challenged at trial if he knew he would later enter politics. A Phoenix Municipal Court judge ordered him to stay away from the victims. Spinks is facing former state Reps. David Schweikert and Susan Bitter Smith, in addition to four other candidates, in the Aug. 24 GOP primary. Schweikert and Bitter Smith declined to comment on Spinks' conviction. District 5 includes Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Tempe and Fountain Hills. The district's current representative, Harry Mitchell, D-Tempe, could not be reached for comment. Spinks had lived for two months in the affluent neighborhood southwest of Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway at the time of the indecent-exposure incidents. A structural defect in the home forced him to take a $1 million loss on his property, he said, after a lengthy legal fight - forcing him to work to rebuild nearly 20 years of investments. Spinks worked as an executive at Long Realty Alliance at the time of the incidents, although he said his conviction alienated agents and clients. The Texas native lost his position at the company and later opened his own brokerage in Ahwatukee.

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6/25/2010

'Flawed' hopeful seeks Congress seat

The Arizona Department of Real Estate fined Spinks $500 in 2008 for not revealing his past conviction. Spinks rebounded, he said, after realizing his dream to run for elected office as a conservative Republican critical of politicians who "by virtue of their wealth and society, are often disconnected from 'Main Street.' " He denied any ethical dilemma in running for office, saying the indecent-exposure incidents were mischaracterized as criminal and sexual. He described his nakedness as far less harmful than drunken college bar fights for which he was never charged. Spinks initially denied exposing himself to neighbors when confronted by officers on Oct. 26, 2005. He claimed he was "returning from riding his bicycle," the report showed. He admitted to walking naked in the garage after officers revealed photos taken by a neighbor. "If it was the other way around, I would have knocked on my neighbor's door," said Spinks, who felt the women overreacted. "That would have been the end of it, and my life would have been completely altered."
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