A former fundraising consultant for Arizona Senator John McCain’s re-election campaign was arrested on drug charges after a raid on her Phoenix home.
Emily Pitha, 34, and her boyfriend, Christopher Hustrulid, were taken into custody Tuesday by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office after detectives said they found drugs and an apparent meth lab in the home, KPNX-TV reports.
Pitha was once listed as the contact to RSVP for a McCain fundraiser and has also worked with other top Republican politicians in Arizona. She was working for LovasCo, a consulting group led by Arizona political operative Corrine Lovas.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pitha’s Boyfriend Signed for a Package Filled With Ecstasy Pills That Had Been Shipped From the Netherlands, Police Say
Emily Pitha’s live-in boyfriend, Christopher Hustrulid, signed for a package containing 250 grams of Ecstasy pills that was delivered to their Phoenix home on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
Hustrulid, 36, and Pitha, were taken into custody and detectives then obtained a search warrant for the house.
The package had been shipped to the home from the Netherlands via the U.S. Postal Service, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said. Postal inspectors also took part in the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.
The package had been X-rayed by the postal service before it was delivered.
2. Detectives Say They Found Drugs, Including Meth, LSD, Cocaine & Heroin ‘All Over’ the House
Detectives searched Pitha’s home and found meth, LSD, cocaine, heroin and marijuana when they served a search warrant, KPNX-TV reports.
The drugs were “all over the home,” Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Doug Matteson told CBS News.
An active meth lab was found at the back of the house, and Matteson said the materials involved in that operation were “very explosive; very deadly,” according to CBS. He said they also found what appeared to be the start of an illegal marijuana growing operation in the back of the home.
3. Two Children Who Live in the Home Had Access to the Drugs, the Sheriff’s Office Says
Hustrulid’s two children, ages 5 and 10, lived in the home, and had access to the drugs, the sheriff’s office told the Arizona Republic.
They “had easy access to all of (the) drugs and materials, even the bomb-making materials that were located in the back with the meth lab,” spokesman Doug Matteson told the newspaper.
Matteson said Pitha and Hustrulid could also face child endangerment charges in addition to the drug offenses.
The children were not home at the time of the raid, the sheriff’s office said.
4. McCain’s Campaign Cut Ties With Pitha & Praised the Work of Law Enforcement
McCain’s campaign has cut ties with Pitha, it said in a statement.
“We commend the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement officers in their fight to keep our community safe from illegal drugs and associated criminal activity,” McCain campaign manager Ryan O’Daniel said in a statement to the Arizona Republic. “The campaign immediately terminated any relationship with Ms. Pitha upon learning of her alleged involvement in the operation.”
Pitha was working for LovasCo, a consulting company owned by political operative Corrine Lovas, according to her Linkedin page.
She has worked for LovasCo since October 2013 and describes her job as “political fundraising, assist in event coordinating, data entry, liaison between political donors and the candidates/fundraising team.”
5. Pitha Is a Former Pre-School Teacher Who Also Worked for Senators Jon Kyl & Jeff Flake
Pitha studied education and Italian at the University of Arizona from 1999 to 2002, according to her Linkedin page. She later studied political science and education at Arizona State University from 2005 to 2007.
She was a preschool teacher’s assistant from 2003 to 2006, before becoming an administrative assistant for former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl in 2006.
Pitha worked as a “healthcare specialist/constitutent service representative/staff assistant/intern” for Kyl in his Phoenix district office from 2007 to 2012. She then worked for U.S. Senator Jeff Flake for three months from January 2013 to March 2013 during the transition from Kyl to Flake.
Jason Samuels, communications director for Flake, said in a statement to the Associated Press, “Following Sen. Kyl’s retirement, Emily Pitha was retained as a constituent services representative in the Phoenix office from January through March 2013.”
Pitha has previous convictions, according to online court records. She was arrested in January 2008 in Scottsdale and charged with driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia. She pleaded guilty to the drug paraphernalia charge.
Pitha was also arrested in Tucson for drunk driving in March 2001, and pleaded down to a charge of driving after drinking while underage.