Crazy Joe Arpaio’s Antics Cost Maricopa $3.75 Million

And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.  Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was nearly daily fodder around here for a while, as he was a never-ending source of abuse, irrationality and unconstitutional conduct. For reasons that make sense only to the voters of Maricopa County, he has nonetheless been re-elected Sheriff over and over.

Now, the voters of Maricopa County will pay for their choice. From the Phoenix New Times:

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors this afternoon voted unanimously to approve a $3.75 million settlement for New Times’ co-founders, whose false arrests in 2007 were orchestrated by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were taken from their homes in the middle of the night and jailed on misdemeanor charges alleging that they violated the secrecy of a grand jury —  which turned out never to have been convened.

This is an archetypical Crazy Joe story, with all the twists and turns of his shenanigans to manipulate the system to “get” his enemies. The New Times article provides the details, and they’re definitely worth a read, whether for the laugh or the cry.  Short story is that after the  then-New Times’ publishers, Lacey and Larkin, published a front-page story detailing what they called Crazy Joe’s “breathtaking abuse of the constitution,” Arpaio did what he does best, he arrested the pair in the middle of the night for a nonexistent crime.

That didn’t sit well.

The next day, after widespread public outrage, [County Attorney and Arpaio puppet Andrew]Thomas announced that [special prosecutor and Arpaio puppet Dennis] Wilenchik was dismissed as special prosecutor and that the investigation was over. Judge Baca later declared that Wilenchik’s grand jury subpoenas were invalid, since he’d issued them without notice or approval from a grand jury or from the court.

Arpaio and Wilenchik eventually sought immunity from Lacey and Larkin’s lawsuit, but that didn’t happen, leading to today’s settlement. Thomas escaped potential liability because of protection his county attorney post afforded him when the episode occurred.

Thomas, however, didn’t completely escape his role in prosecutorial abuse, subsequently being disbarred.

The absurdly unlawful arrests, six years ago, have finally resulted in a settlement with Maricopa County for $3.75 million, a not insignificant sum.  But the cost of loving Arpaio too much continues to grow with a settlement with former Supervisor Don Stapley, with whom the county also settled another Arpaio and Thomas prosecutorial abuse case for $3.5 million.

As much as the price of Crazy Joe’s outrageous defiance of anything remotely resembling constitutional conduct in Maricopa brings a smile to my face, Lacey and Larkin’s post-settlement statement make a critical and, sadly, accurate point:

“Unlike most of Arpaio’s victims, we had the financial wherewithal to defend ourselves in court, and we were able to speak through the newspaper,” Lacey and Larkin say in a statement. “But the vulnerable and impoverished victims of Arpaio’s ongoing abusive practices have neither the money nor the voice to fight back.”

While Crazy Joe’s hubris knew no bounds, and was amply used against anyone he perceived to be his political enemies, his gravest damage was done to the poor, as he rounded up anyone with Hispanic features under the presumption that they were illegal immigrants.  The sheer scope of his abuse of his position against the most vulnerable in Maricopa County was mind-boggling. Worse still, to the extent anything explains his continuation in office, its that he reflected the racial hatred between whites and Mexicans in Arizona, the personification of prejudice.

While the locals were not persuaded to toss Crazy Joe out of office by his constant stream of unconstitutional shenanigans, DoJ investigations, pink-underwear scheme, arrest of his political opponents or round-up of Hispanics, maybe a hit in the wallet will change the voters’ minds. Maybe it’s finally something they can relate to, since they obviously can’t relate to the Constitution or norms of social decency.

In the meantime, Larkin and Lacey have announced that the proceeds of their settlement will be used to help those who weren’t as capable as they were in fighting Crazy Joe:

The co-founders announced that they will use the settlement proceeds to “help those who fight the good fight against government actors who attack the most vulnerable among us.” Included in this list of recipient organizations are the Arizona ACLU, the Florence Project, and Puente. A contribution also will be made to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help protect Internet free speech.

All in all, a pretty good day in Maricopa County for everyone except Crazy Joe and the voters who support him. And really, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

H/T Jim Tyre



12 thoughts on “Crazy Joe Arpaio’s Antics Cost Maricopa $3.75 Million

  1. nidefatt

    Considering his ample support throughout the country, I’ll be he could put on a fund raiser and make that money in a day. I know Idaho would help him out. Two candidates in the last run for sheriff in my county basically just ran on a “i’ll be like joe” platform.

  2. UltravioletAdmin

    “arrest of his political opponents or round-up of Hispanics”

    You say that like they are separate. Sheriff Joe needs to keep the Native and Hispanic population down to keep him in office. Both to appeal to his base of 80 year olds afraid of skin tones, and to keep an organized collation from voting him out.

  3. John Minn

    Most assuredly following your job description and your oath of office is surely crazy in this day and age. Just drink the owners of so many of these liars, cheats and thieves tea and do as they want and you will be a “good ol boy”. If Erik Holder is your enemy, you must be doing something right, and Holder obviously hates Joe’s guts. Perhaps Jim doesn’t know who Holder is. Holder is Mr. BS’s (Barry Soetoro’s) henchman who persecutes anyone who tries to slow their changing this nation into a government of the government, by the government and for the government system as Holder wipes his feet on the Constitution several times a day.
    Stopping a drunk weaving down the road is surely bad conduct if they are of the Holder protected race. Holder’s owners call them cannon fodder. Does that give you a clue as to what from Hell (literally) is going on there Jim boy? Nah, Jim loves the BO stench coming off the BS.

  4. PaulTheCabDriber

    As a long time cabdriver in this town, I can tell you from first-hand experience that there is very little racism in Phoenix. The authors characterization of a racial hatred between Mexican-Americans and Anglos is vastly exaggerated. In fact, even in the sheriffs department, Mexican Americans hold several prominent positions. And the contention that Mexican-Americans are some sort of underclass in Phoenix is patently ridiculous. There are poor Mexicans, but there are also wealthy ones and middle-class ones too.
    This does not mitigate the fact that Arpaio is one of the worst sheriffs to ever afflict this county.
    But how does he keep getting elected? One must realize that the people in charge of transporting the ballots from polling places to the county elections office are working for the sheriffs office. The ballots are transported in unmarked panel vans, in sealed containers. However, the sealed containers can be opened simply by removing the hinge pins with a pair of pliers. The pins can then be reinstalled with no evidence of tampering. This leaves the seal intact, but allows any kind of shenanigans to occur. While I am not accusing anyone vote fraud, vote fraud does have a long tradition in Arizona. And it is a much better explanation of Arpaio’s reelection than racism.

    1. SHG Post author

      Since I’m in New York, I have no personal knowledge of racism in Maricopa County. You say it’s overstated. An awful lot of people say otherwise. You guys can fight it out over who’s right. My view is from what Crazy Joe does, and a state that passes a law that permits Hispanics to be rounded up for having a vowel at the end of their name or an accent doesn’t strike me as one that is particularly race neutral. A sheriff’s office that routinely rounds up groups of Hispanics for whom no probable cause exists doesn’t strike me as particularly race neutral.

      So Phoenix isn’t racist? If you say so. It’s often a matter of definition and perspective, such as it’s not racist because all those people rounded up deserve it.

      1. PaulTheCabDriver

        Allow me to clarify a few things because I think you may misunderstand my point.
        1. Arpaio is a thug that deserves to be in prison for many, many things not limited to his violation of people’s rights.
        2. No one deserves to be “rounded up” for any reason no matter his race, creed, color, or marital status.
        3. I think it is wrong to castigate an entire metropolitan area of 3.8 million people as “racist” because one power monger (who may or may not be racist himself) has managed to glom onto the office of sheriff and hold onto it by hook or by crook. This would be like me calling the city of New York a bunch of paranoid, weight obsessed, anti-smoking, control freaks because of the character flaws of a certain recent mayor of your fine city.
        To get sidetracked into calling regions of a country “racist” is counter productive, and not at all accurate. The bigger issue is how to get rid of the execrable Sheriff Joe, and at least get him out of office, if not hauled up on charges. And in that vein, i submit the following:
        Despite his other flaws, Joe is NOT a racist. He is an obsessive, egomaniacal, but efficient bureaucrat. He is driven primarily by “enforcing the law”, not by racial motivations. This is illustrated by how harshly the man comes down on drunk driving, drug crimes, etc. as well as illegal immigration. Now, the people who put him into office are not racists either. However, they believe that draconian enforcement of the law will somehow magically purge all of society of its ills. The people who vote for Sheriff Joe ignore his excesses because they believe that Joe is the only guy around who is “tough on crime”.
        So, in my point of view, not only does Joe need to go, but people also need to see that bad laws don’t solve social problems, no matter how strictly they are enforced. Strict enforcement of bad laws yields horrible results. And giving a man who is “tough on crime” carte blanche to do as he wishes to “criminals” will invariably lead to corruption and abuse of power.

        1. SHG Post author

          But I’m not calling the region racist, just that portion that elects this dangerous nutjob. They may not mean to be (the draconian crowd), but that seems to be what most of the locals tell me.

  5. 63Marine

    Kudos to Sheriff Joe. America needs more Sheriffs like him. He doesn’t take any schette off anyone including the fraud in our house in Washington DC. I can’t wait till March to see what his “Cold Case Posse” has on obobo. It should be interesting at least. In addition, America needs more Sheriffs like him who will quell the gang violence, which has gotten totally out of control.

    1. SHG Post author

      So the fact that he’s batshit crazy doesn’t bother you. Oh, wait. Never mind.

      What’s exceptionally, funny, thought not likely to you, is that the Crazy Joe supporters (like you) are just as ignorant and insane as he is. You prove the point.

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