Friday, September 07, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #72 - Part 4

Outrage of the Week: DOJ ends investigation of Arpaio without charges

Federal authorities have dropped their investigation into abuse-of-power allegations against Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "America's toughest sheriff." He is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.

The probe focused on his so-called anti-public-corruption squad, the targets of which always seemed to be people who were having conflicts with Arpaio.

In the central case, Arpaio and his top ally, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, had been embroiled in a three-year feud with county officials and judges.

At one point, one of those judges, Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe, disqualified Thomas from handling an investigation into the construction of a court building and was preparing to appoint a special prosecutor. In the wake of that disqualification, criminal charges, supposedly based on an investigation by that supposed "anti-public-corruption squad," were filed against the judge and two county supervisors. Notably, the charges were dismissed on the grounds that Thomas had filed them for political gain and to embarrass the targets. He was disbarred in April as a direct result.

But despite being the source of those charges, Arpaio is going to skate - what's more, the feds have also dropped investigations into allegations of misuse of county credit cards by sheriff's officials, misspending of jail-enhancement funds, and other matters. Deploying the Sergeant Schultz gambit, the DOJ insisted that, quoting the statement, "we do not believe the allegations presented to us are prosecutable as crimes." ("We see NOTHING!")

Critics wondered why, if the DOJ was so sure of that, that the announcement was made at 5pm on the Friday before a holiday weekend and just before the Democratic convention, a time when the announcement was guaranteed to get as little notice as possible.

Arpaio is not out of the woods - or the cacti - yet: The feds have also accused his office of a wide range of civil rights violations, including racially profiling Latinos, retaliating against critics of its immigration patrols, and basing those immigration patrols on racially charged citizen complaints that did not allege crimes. Meanwhile, perhaps more significantly since it doesn't depend on the wimps at the DOJ, there is a civil suit brought by a group of Latinos who claim Arpaio and his deputies engaged in racial profiling.

But for now, this power-hungry, self-celebrating, bigoted jerk can still strut his stuff. And that is an outrage.


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