Jun
02

Thomas and Arpaio – a history of abuse

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In his notice of claim, the attorney for Judge Donahoe gave an account of the other well documented cases where the two officials abused the power of their offices for political gain:

This is  far  from the first  time Thomas and Arpaio have abused their power and authority  by  retaliating  against political  opponents  or  helping  and  encouraging  their allies  do  so.  In  fact,  they  have  a  long  established  custom,  pattern,  and  practice  of doing this.

A stunning example of  this arrogant abuse of power was shown  in  the manner in which Arpaio and Thomas treated the  transfer to Yavapai County Attorney, Sheila Polk,  of  the  investigation  into  various  County  officials  after  conflict  of  interest charges were made  against Thomas.  Sheriff Arpaio,  particularly,  grew  increasingly unhappy with  Polk’s  handling  of the matters,  specifically  her  rightful  resistance  to issuing  overly  broad  subpoenas  that  she  believed were  nothing more  than  “fishing expeditions.”  Once Polk demonstrated that she was “too independent” for the  likes of Arpaio  and Thomas, Thomas  simply  took  the  case back  to  be  handled  by  his office, despite the conflict of  interest.

Polk  later  characterized  Thomas’  and  Arpaio’s  abuses  of  power  as “totalitarianism,”  and  noted  that:  “Our power,  granted  to  us  by  the  people,  is  not  a personal  tool  to  target political enemies or avenge perceived wrongs.”  MCSO Chief Deputy  Hendershott,  not  surprisingly,  responded  to  Polk’s  comments  by  doing precisely what  she  cautioned against:  he  claimed that she,  too,  was  now part of  the alleged  “conspiracy”  and  should  be  investigated  by  the  FBI  for  hindering  Sheriff Arpaio’s corruption investigations!

Arpaio  and  Thomas  have  a  history  of  working  against  their  political opponents,  including  state  legislators  and  the  judiciary.  Several  years  ago,  Arpaio and Thomas  joined  to  form  an  anti-corruption  task  force,  called  Operation MACE. The  purpose,  ironically,  was  to  root  out  abuses  of the  public  trust.  The  first  target was  the  Maricopa  County  Community  College  System.  They  seized  hundreds  of boxes of  records and alleged that money appeared to be missing.  But nothing further happened with the  investigation.  In fact,  the  first  indictments from Operation MACE had nothing  to  do  with  the  community colleges.  Instead,  they  brought petty charges against  a  former  state  senator  from  Yuma,  Russ  Jones,  based  on  activity  during  a 2006 election.  The same allegations had been made against Jones during the election, and  were  dismissed  by  the  Arizona  Supreme  Court.  Jones  eventually  lost  the election.  And yet, Arpaio and Thomas brought the  same charges, again, alleging that Jones  presented  false  objects  for  filing  and  willfully  concealed  his  activities.  Not surprisingly, a trial court quickly dismissed the charges.

Arizona’s  Attorney  General,  Terry  Goddard,  has  also  been  the  subject  of investigation.  A  host  of  press  releases  were  issued  at  the  beginning  of  the investigation,  “evidence”  was  distributed  to  the  media,  and  allegations  were  made that  the Attorney General’s  office was  stonewalling.  Not  surprisingly,  even  after  4 years, there have been no  indictments or charges.

In another  instance,  in the dead of night,  the Sheriffs “Selective Enforcement Unit” pulled Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin from  their homes,  arresting them on a petty misdemeanor charge of publishing  in  their newspaper,  the Phoenix New  Times,  false grand  jury  subpoenas  that Thomas  and Arpaio  knew were  unlawful.  In  a  stunning retaliatory assault on the First Amendment, Arpaio and Thomas pursued this political prosecution  solely  in  retribution  for  articles  critical  of  them  that  the  paper  had published over the years.  The arrest, done on the pretext that the paper violated some non-applicable  statute,  generated  a  deafening  public  outrage  at  the  abuse  of power and process.  This time,  even Arpaio’s charges were  dropped,  the  Special Prosecutor who  spearheaded the  investigation was  fired,  and  all  involved,  including  the Sheriff, ran for cover, denying any and all  responsibility for ordering the arrests.

More  recently,  Daniel  Pochoda,  the  Arizona  director  of the  American  civil Liberties Union  (ACLU) was  acquitted on a charge of misdemeanor trespassing after he  was  arrested  and  prosecuted  for  his  mere  presence  at  an  immigration-related demonstration at a local furniture store.  Mr.  Pochoda was on the scene to meet with a client.  He  was  returning  to  his  car,  not  having  participated  in  the  demonstration, when four  Sheriffs deputies arrested him.  This  stunning abuse of power took a jury less than half  a day to hear and decide:  not guilty.

A SWAT  Team style  raid on the home of Dr. Sandra Dowling,  the Maricopa County School Superintendent, was  followed  by  indictment on baseless  charges  that she  allegedly  embezzled  or misused  $3.5  million  in  public  funds.  The  24  count felony  indictment was  later  dismissed with prejudice.  Though  she  was  vindicated, Arpaio and Thomas had succeeded in ousting her and closing the Pappas Schools: her reputation ruined, her life’s work demeaned and denigrated.

These instances of  abuse of  power, as horrifying as  they are, pale somewhat in comparison  to  the  latest  round  of baseless  retaliatory  investigations  and  suits,  both civil  and criminal,  that Thomas, Arpaio and  their minions have brought against other elected  officials,  County  management,  and  now  members  of  the  judiciary  – all designed for  no  other purpose  than  to  intimidate and punish  those  that disagree with their viewpoints.  This escalation of evil, this reign of  terror,  is  inexcusable.

If you or a loved one is being wrongfully prosecuted in Phoenix, contact attorney Joshua Davidson today.

Categories : Politics

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