Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff and longtime Overlawyered mentionee Joe Arpaio did not keep close track of the military-grade gear the Pentagon gave him — in fact, his office seems to have lost some of it — and now the feds are lowering the boom: “Because of the agency’s continued failure to locate nine missing weapons issued by the Pentagon’s 1033 program, the Sheriff’s Office was terminated from the military-surplus program, effective immediately. The agency is required to return its cache of issued firearms, helicopters and other gear within 120 days.” Arizona Republic reporter Megan Cassidy quotes me regarding the interesting timing of the announcement, following closely after events in Ferguson, Mo. helped stir a nationwide furor over the 1033 program. It’s not specified (h/t Lauren Galik) whether they’ll have to give back the hot dog machine and $3,500 popcorn machine.
Longtime Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio talks quite a game as a populist defender of the ordinary citizen. His actual record, however, has been one of grave abuse of power. One of the worst incidents has now come home to roost: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a $3.75 million settlement over an incident in which Arpaio’s deputies arrested two critical journalists at their homes in the middle of the night. [Phoenix New Times]
Taxpayers of the Arizona county are shelling out millions in settlements to compensate victims of the systematic abuses committed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and D.A. Andrew Thomas. The latest settlement, $1.4 million, was to a developer whose office was ransacked as part of a series of raids conducted against Arpaio’s and Thomas’s political enemies, purportedly in search of evidence of political corruption. “Thomas was disbarred for his actions last year, but Arpaio was re-elected to a sixth term as sheriff in November.” When organized lawyers display higher ethical standards than an electorate, I’m not sure it reflects well on the electorate. [Aaron Kase, Lawyers.com, Phoenix New Times; earlier on Arpaio and on Thomas]
Three columns to read on the subject: Gene Healy, Glenn Reynolds (linking this site), and Nat Hentoff (like Healy, a Cato colleague) in his syndicated column (thanks for mention). I had a letter to the editor yesterday in the Frederick News-Post drawing connections with local lawmakers (as well as a blog post at Free State Notes with similar themes) and the Arizona Republic quoted me Tuesday on the federal subsidy programs that drive militarization, including transfers to the ever-controversial Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of Joe Arpaio. Earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.
P.S. Also quoted on NPR.
Never mind what rightish pundits have to say about the Perry indictment. Leftish pundits like Jonathan Chait are tearing it to shreds all by themselves. It reminds me of when prosecutor Andrew Thomas, sidekick of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, pressed charges against some of Arpaio’s political rivals over actions within their official authority, an episode that ended with Thomas’s disbarment. Chait:
They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. …
The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.
When you’ve lost not just David Axelrod and Matt Yglesias but even Jonathan Chait and Scott Lemieux for a legal complaint against a conservative, you’re not just aboard a sinking ship, it’s more like you’re grasping a piece of random driftwood.
P.S. John Steele Gordon, Commentary: “the blow back from left, right, and center is so intense that Perry may well be the first public official to actually gain political clout from being indicted.” (& welcome Jacob Gershman/WSJ Law Blog readers)
After 17 months the federal government has released heavily redacted information in response to a FOIA request, shedding new light on the probe into the systematic abuses committed by Sheriff Joseph Arpaio and allied county D.A. Andrew Thomas. We’ve been covering them for years. [Arizona Republic, auto-plays]
Bad enough when the media caters to this sort of thing, but when government itself does it, you may have crossed into Arpaio territory [Coyote] Related: David Kravets, Wired.
Coyote reports from Maricopa County, Arizona. And speaking of which, the furor over the erratic doings of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his allies keeps getting hotter: Coyote, Greenfield, Bennett, etc.
More on Maricopa-cabana: “New Turmoil in Embattled Ariz. County as Appeals Court Bans Sheriff from Searching Judge’s Computers” [ABA Journal]; “Rule of law erodes further in Maricopa County” [Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute]
New Jersey dental assistant Amber Arpaio found herself an asterisk-to-an-asterisk in the history of political scandals when it was reported that Ashley Dupre used Arpaio’s lost driver’s license to pass for more than 17 when she made a “Girls Gone Wild” video that later became notorious after the exposure of Dupre’s paid liaison with Gov. Eliot Spitzer. So now Arpaio is suing Dupre and Joe Francis, impresario of the “Girls Gone Wild” series. The news coverage of the lawsuit contains no indication that Arpaio suffered any damage to her credit record or other tangible interests from the affair, but she wants upwards of $10 million in cash solace for defamation and invasion of privacy, and, per her attorney, because “when someone searches her name on the Internet, pornographic material comes up.” Much better, when someone searches her name on the Internet, for intimations of litigiousness to come up. (Nancy Dillon, “Duped by Dupre: N.J. woman charges Spitzer call girl with identity theft”, New York Daily News, Jul. 17; AP/Comcast, Jul. 17)(& Prettier Than Napoleon). Plus: complaint at The Smoking Gun (h/t commenter VMS).
More 7/22: Thanks to commenter Eric Turkewitz for pointing out that Dupre had posed as Arpaio in actual news coverage, not just in the signing of film releases and the like, which makes the basis for the suit less unreasonable than I had hastily assumed.