Sheriff Joe Arpaio Corrupt Thug and Bully

Joe_ArpaioMaricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may be nationally famous as a “tough on crime” peace officer, but he’s a thug of the highest order, the editors of The Arizona Republic charge in a blistering broadside, and the governor and attorney general are cowards for letting him get away with it:

Anyone who still believes Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas are not abusing their police powers to intimidate and harass their political enemies must consider the brazen attempt on Tuesday to intimidate attorney Colin Campbell.

Campbell, attorney for County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, responded in detail on Tuesday to the charges against his client, a political opponent of Arpaio and Thomas. Wilcox faces criminal indictments leveled by the duo.  Campbell was defiant. And contemptuous. Among the charges leveled against his client, said Campbell, was a conflict-of-interest accusation regarding a board meeting on a day the supervisors never met and a vote Wilcox never logged.

Within hours of the press conference, Campbell himself suddenly became the subject of a sheriff’s investigation. In a hand-delivered letter to the attorney, Arpaio declared Campbell should present himself for an interview – “no later than 5 p.m.” the next day – regarding unrelated conflicts in which Campbell has never been implicated.

Together, the sheriff and the county attorney have established a stunning record in the last year of using their police powers to intimidate their political foes. Until Tuesday, the most brazen demonstration of that abuse was a federal RICO lawsuit filed earlier this month against . . . well, against pretty much everyone the sheriff and county attorney have battled the past 13 months.

But like scofflaws on a crime spree whose assaults become increasingly violent, so the sheriff and county attorney are becoming increasingly bold at mixing political foes into the soup of “crime investigations.”

Think of it: Within hours of launching his defense of Wilcox, the supervisor’s lawyer is forced to defend himself against the daunting power of Joe Arpaio’s badge. This is not the rule of law. It is the rule of brash thuggery.

It demonstrates a frightening callousness on the part of Arpaio and Thomas regarding the power these two men hold.  These two elected “law” officers possess the power to damage reputations. And they are using that power. They are capable of intimidating perfectly innocent citizens, to say nothing of draining their bank accounts as they struggle to defend themselves against utterly specious “conspiracy” lawsuits and – in light of recent events – criminal accusations of dubious merit.

Let’s not fool ourselves, shall we? Sheriff Arpaio wanted to send Campbell a message. He wanted his enemies to quake before the terrible might of America’s Toughest Sheriff. There is no higher form of corruption among American officeholders than this.

In fact, there is but one behavior more contemptible than this: The timid unwillingness of Arizona’s political “leaders” to utter a word against it.

The governor has no bully pulpit? The attorney general is without standing to condemn the implosion of the rule of law in Arizona’s most populous county?

There is a cravenness before the power of these lawless men that shames the state. Online pundits who prattle endlessly about “corruption” somehow have failed to notice the chaos. Swaggering local talk-show hosts speak scarcely a word of it. Heaven forbid they pull away the curtain of the All Powerful Joe.

This behavior is wrong. Who will be “investigated” next? Who will they come for next?

There’s not much to add to that.

via Dan Gilmore

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    Your headline says it all. While I don’t think his tent cities, pink underwear, or change gangs were cruel, they were certainly unusual. I would agree with the current stuff coming out of Maricopa County, that’s he graduated from “unusual” to “corrupt thug,” and has done so proudly.

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Funny how people on this site are always willing to attack those doing the right thing. A man accused of wrong doing makes a counter claim and you want to believe the person charged, by those given the authority by election. Seems to me it is getting mighty blue around here. I smell liberalism. Pile it higher, deeper=Ph.D.

  3. Herb says:

    Um, Zels, the thing you don’t get, bud, is that issues like this don’t have a political component. What’s conservative about Sheriff Joe skirting the law? Nothing.

    What’s liberal about opposing a sheriff who thinks he’s a law unto himself? Nothing.

    Are you a spoofer, man? Come on, tell me true. Are you doing Colbert’s act? Or do you sincerely believe that the only people who can find a bone to pick with Sheriff Joe are liberals?

  4. kth says:

    Phoenix cannot be considered a first-tier city as long as this knuckle-dragging goon is the area’s top law enforcement officer. Serious thanks, James, for echoing the denunciation of this disgrace.

  5. tom p says:

    Careful James, you could be receiving a subpoena any day now…

  6. Highlander says:

    Arpaio may or may not be guilty as charged, but Just because a newspaper goes after him does not automatically make the man guilty of anything.

    I see the American Civil Liberties Union Hates him. The Anti Defamation League Hates him. The American Jewish Committee Hates him. La Raza Hates him. Amnesty International Hates him. And the Ever Faithful Newwww Yooork Timezzzz Hates him. With a cast of CLOWNS like this after the man, what rational Red White and Blue America lover wouldn’t be an all out supporter of Sheriff Arpaio!

    He has been judged by the local citizens of Phoenix IN FIVE(5)DIFFERENT ELECTIONS, AND WON THEM ALL EASILY! In 2008(that’s last year for you liberal Arpaio haters) The citizens of Phoenix reelected him with a 150,000 vote margin.

    In 2007 this group of political haters, Bolsheviks and political assassins launched a recall drive against Sheriff Arpaio. These CLOWNS couldn’t get enough signatures to get their recall off the ground.

    So if I were you guys, I’d get my pink panties all unknotted over “BAD, MEAN, OLD SHERIFF ARPAIO”. Because if the voters of Phoenix mean anything, it looks like this tough old Arizona Lawman isn’t going anywhere until HE gets good and damn ready to, all on his own.

  7. mike says:

    I interviewed an ADA for Joe’s area and he basically said this – either you are one of Joe’s people or you are not – Napolitatano, as everyone knows, is not – if he broke the law, then bring the charges – people don’t like Sheriff Joe (IMO) because he enforces the existing law rather than the PC law. if he went outside the lines on this thing, then charge him – I would bet you don’t win though…

  8. anjin-san says:

    What’s conservative about Sheriff Joe skirting the law? Nothing.

    Ummmm. Well, he is just doing a Cheney on a local level. And we can see “conservatives” leaping to his defense.

  9. Trumwill says:

    He has been judged by the local citizens of Phoenix IN FIVE(5)DIFFERENT ELECTIONS, AND WON THEM ALL EASILY! In 2008(that’s last year for you liberal Arpaio haters) The citizens of Phoenix reelected him with a 150,000 vote margin.

    So is it your position that voters don’t, as a group, make mistakes? That duly and properly elected officials are inherently free from corruption or repetitive errors in judgment?

  10. Highlander says:

    Trumwill,

    For five times(as recently as last year) the voters mistakenly or not said they trusted Sheriff Arpiao with maintaining law and order.

    Now absent a criminal conviction or recall, the last I checked that is the way it works in a Democracy. The citizens have the final say, and last year by about 170,000 vote margin they said “we like Sheriff Arpiao just fine”.(730,000 of them voted for Sheriff Arpiao, and you are obviously smarter than all of 730,000 of them. How did you get ever so smart?)

    Now if you are so impassioned in your dislike for strict law enforcement, why don’t you run against the Sheriff next time. Then you could see what the fine citizens of Phoenix think of your law enforcement philosophy.

  11. Trumwill says:

    We also have freedom of speech, Highlander. That means we can say all manner of negative things about the duly elected Sheriff of Maricopa County.

    Except, of course, at Board of Supervisors meetings in MC, in which case clapping for ten seconds in disagreement with him can get us arrested.

    Seriously, though, that he has been legitimately elected has no bearing on whether or not we criticize his behavior in office.

  12. sam says:

    I see the American Civil Liberties Union Hates him. The Anti Defamation League Hates him. The American Jewish Committee Hates him. La Raza Hates him. Amnesty International Hates him. And the Ever Faithful Newwww Yooork Timezzzz Hates him. With a cast of CLOWNS like this after the man, what rational Red White and Blue America lover wouldn’t be an all out supporter of Sheriff Arpaio!

    Hmmm. The clownishness of these organizations must precede their hatred of Sheriff Joe in Highlander’s estimation. I can see why he might have a problem with La Raza, the ACLU, and the Times, but I’d like to know from him why a “rational Red White and Blue America lover” would think the Anti-Defamation League and The American Jewish Committee are clownish. (I must say, too, that I was surprised the NAACP was left off the list. An oversight, I’d guess.)

  13. Herb says:

    “Now if you are so impassioned in your dislike for strict law enforcement, why don’t you run against the Sheriff next time. Then you could see what the fine citizens of Phoenix think of your law enforcement philosophy.”

    C’mon, Highlander. Law enforcement means more than running your own Maricopa County ICE division. It means more than making convicts wear pink underwear and eat baloney sandwiches.

    Your “the people voted for him” argument doesn’t impress me. So he won an election…does that mean his accountability moment has passed? Does that mean he can do what he wants, regardless?

    The dude’s a sheriff. Not a king.

  14. Highlander says:

    Dear All,

    I have no problem with your rising up and expressing your righteous anger at Sheriff Arpiao’s tough manner of law enforcement. That’s your privilege as citizens, and duty also.

    I have found that it is usually a healthy thing to critique our leaders both left and right. It helps to keep them a little grounded. Because all the special interests are blowing smoke up their political anal regions 7/24 telling them how wonderful they are.

    But all the motioned organizations are radical left wing driven bomb throwers. Who,when they can’t get their way at the ballot box(which they obviously can’t with Sheriff Arpiao)are more than ready to with the help of “Old Media” to conduct a little “coup d’etat” against any duly elected public official they disagree with.

    In the old west they would have been called a political “lynch mob”. That’s what makes them a bunch of dangerous clownish organizations in these late days of the Republic. I am not a particular fan of the sheriff, but as an American I was raised to dislike lynch mobs.

  15. sam says:

    the motioned organizations are radical left wing driven bomb throwers

    You’re full of shit.

  16. Herb says:

    Highlander, your comment made me laugh. It’s like a greatest hits record of all the tired old right wing tropes.

    The ACLU isn’t just a vaguely liberal advocacy group…they’re “radical left wing driven bomb throwers.”

    The media is not just biased, but they’re actively engaged in a conspiracy “to conduct a little coup d’etat!” (You’re not using that word properly, but I’ll let it go since you’re grinding an ax, not making a point.)

    Riddle me this: Why should anyone, left or right, take you seriously?

  17. Highlander says:

    Dear! Dear! Who knew you pink panty wearing boys could get so mean and vicious! And utter such vile and ugly words in a public forum like this.

    Oh well,I’m bored with you all at this point. Because Sheriff Arpiao really doesn’t need me to stand up for him. He has obviously kicked all of his liberal political opponents in their sef righteous political butts so many times,it is just quite simply monotonous to behold. Oh and we do all feel their pain.

    So,I’m out of here…off to England for a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! And a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you LEFTIES! Relax go drink some eggnog…life is short, AND SHERIFF ARPIAO ISN’T GOING AWAY!

  18. tom p says:

    In the old west they would have been called a political “lynch mob”. That’s what makes them a bunch of dangerous clownish organizations in these late days of the Republic. I am not a particular fan of the sheriff, but as an American I was raised to dislike lynch mobs.

    So, just in case you might actually be still perusing this thread Highlander…

    What is your opinion of the tea baggers, the birthers, the Republican Party? (or am I being redundant?)

    Who,when they can’t get their way at the ballot box

    Hmmmmmmmmmm…..

  19. Wayne says:

    Probably some left wing reporter smearing the Sheriff. Very one sided. I wonder if the reporter had problems with all the lame lawsuits filed against the sheriff.

  20. Steve Plunk says:

    This conservative will not defend the sheriff or make excuses. If it can be shown he has abused his power then I believe punishment should be severe. But I believe any government official who abuses power or shows a gross disregard for the law deserves twice the punishment an ordinary citizen might receive. With great power comes great responsibility. Let’s see what happens.

    For years I have maintained the true threat to civil liberties is not the Patriot Act or the FBI but rather your local police, planning department,or even school board. This is where the battle for liberty is fought under the radar. For every story like this one there are scores of others that never make the national news.

    Oh, thanks anjin for dragging the Bush administration back into things when it has nothing to do with it. Let it go man, let it go.

  21. anjin-san says:

    you pink panty wearing boys

    Dude, if you want to talk about your fantasies and secret desires, there are websites for that. Stick to politics please…

  22. Alex Knapp says:

    Steve Plunk,

    But I believe any government official who abuses power or shows a gross disregard for the law deserves twice the punishment an ordinary citizen might receive. With great power comes great responsibility. Let’s see what happens.

    For years I have maintained the true threat to civil liberties is not the Patriot Act or the FBI but rather your local police, planning department,or even school board. This is where the battle for liberty is fought under the radar. For every story like this one there are scores of others that never make the national news.

    Let me give you an amen!

  23. Wayne says:

    If it is shown that anyone abuse their power then yes they should be punish. However anyone that simply takes a reporters word for it is foolish. It is amazing how many people still fall for the fallacy of “if it is in print it must be true”.

  24. anjin-san says:

    I agree with Alex. Steve Plunk’s comment is dead on…

  25. Alex Knapp says:

    Wayne,

    I suggest you follow Radley Balko’s coverage of the Sheriff on the Agitator. This isn’t an isolated incident.