Context is everything. Sheriff Joe is “dispatching” his “posse” across the valley to historically black churches to protect them from violence this weekend. There have been no explicit threats against any of the churches. You have to ask yourself, what is Arpaio’s true motivation? If his sole motivation was to protect the churches, would he have disclosed the details of his plan to the local media? When determining for yourself whether Sheriff Joe’s motivations are honest or political, consider the following list of seven other times that Sheriff Joe advertised that he was “protecting the public.”
1. Investigating President Obama’s Birth Certificate: In 2012, Sheriff Joe formed a posse to investigate President Obama’s birth certificate. In 2014, Arpaio’s top deputy on the “investigation” Mike Zullo told CBS 5 that he accepted a bribe of $10,000.00 from Bill Wolf. Bill Wolf was one of the founders of the national birther movement. A Maricopa County Sheriff’s Officer accepting a bribe? Wow.
2. Arresting Phoenix New Times Editors: In 2007, Sheriff Joe arrested Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin for publishing the contents of a Maricopa County Subpoena (asking the New Times for all of the IP Addresses of all visitors to the Phoenix New Times from 2004 to 2007). The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office ultimately dropped the charges. Lacey and Larkin ultimately settled their civil case against Arpaio for false arrest for $3.75M. Our Sheriff’s Office paying $3.75 million to settle with our tax money? Again. Wow.
3. Bringing False Charges against Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe: In 2009, Judge Donahoe ordered Adam Stoddard (a detention officer working for Sheriff Joe) to apologize for stealing documents from a defense attorney’s file. In response, Sheriff Joe ordered Adam Stoddard to refuse to apologize. In retaliation, Sheriff Joe brought fake charges of bribery and obstruction of justice against Judge Donahoe. Because of his judicial oath, Judge Donahoe could not defend himself in public. Ultimately, Judge Donahoe settled his civil case against Arpaio for $1.275M. Don’t see much protection here. Just harassment.
4. Spying on Federal Judge Murray Snow's Wife: In the spring of 2015, Sheriff Joe admitted to ignoring the federal court’s order that barred his “Immigration Enforcement Patrols.” In his criminal contempt hearing stemming from the “Immigration Enforcement Patrols," Sheriff Joe admitted to Judge Snow that he hired a private investigator to spy on the Judge’s wife. How did this protect us as Maricopa County citizens?
5. Intimidating Phoenix Mayor Gordon: In 2008, City of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation into Arpaio’s allegedly racist immigration patrols. Sheriff Joe responded by demanding Mayor Gordon’s emails and phone logs. Bullying or protection?
6. Bringing False Charges against Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley: Also in 2008, County Supervisor Don Stapley - a Republican - publicly criticized Sheriff Joe to the media. In response, Sheriff Joe had the County Supervisor arrested under suspicion of financial misdealing and fraud. Ultimately Sheriff Joe settled Stapley’s civil case for $3.5M. I see a pattern here.
7. Torturing Prisoners: Too many successful lawsuits to count. From 2004 to 2007, Sheriff Joe was the target of 2,150 lawsuits in US District Court based on the prison conditions of which Sheriff Joe boasts. During that three year period, there were fifty times more lawsuits brought against Sheriff Joe than those brought against the New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston jail systems combined. In the 22 years since Sheriff Joe Arpaio first took office, Maricopa County has paid more than $43 Million in settlements and judgments for his department’s actions. Doesn’t it seem like the County could have used that $43 million to improve our schools to protect our kids?
***Credit for statistics and settlement amounts: Phoenix New Times and AZ Central