It was pretty bizarre, watching Joe Arpaio come on Neil Cavuto's show yesterday on Fox and tout the wonderfulness of his record as sheriff of Maricopa County -- and sneer at his pursuers in the Justice Department -- when only a few hours before I had been reading about the latest in a series of damning revelations about how corrupt his office has become:
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office misused at least $50 million from a fund for jail operations, and county supervisors may have to use the general fund to repay the money, top county officials say.
Findings by the county's Office of Management and Budget show the Sheriff's Office tapped the money to pay for functions not allowed under jail-fund rules, such as salaries for deputies who worked on public-corruption investigations into county supervisors and judges.
Ryan J. Reilly at TPM Muckraker has more:
Excerpts of the reports, obtained by TPMMuckraker, show officials from Arpaio's office made trips to Orlando, D.C., Honduras, Tempe, Belize, Alaska and Puerto Rico on the county's dime and racked up other questionable expenses, like $741 at Sardella's Pizza and Wings. The county was also charged $350 for a hotel room upgrade for one official's spouse. One employee went on multiple extradition trips without submitting receipts for the $62,750 he or she spent -- including $1,341 on Disney World Yacht Club Resort food and entertainment.
Others expenses charged to the county, according to the report, include $1,684 for a portable generator for parade lights on an army tank; $635 at Buca di Beppo when members of the Honduran National Police were in town; and $500 on a carriage ride.
Nary a word about this report was uttered on Cavuto's show -- instead, he was too busy whining that no one in the media would pay attention to Arpaio's clean audit on his handling of prisoners -- an inconsequential issue, since he's not under investigation for that.
Moreover, there was no mention whatsoever of the even more damning revelations coming from within his own office:
Top officials in the office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio used its anti-corruption unit to conduct politically motivated investigations, misled the public about a campaign fund that helped Arpaio win reelection and surveilled the Arizona lawman's campaign rivals, according to an internal memo from a high-ranking officer.
The 63-page memo, first reported Thursday by the Arizona Republic, blames Arpaio's longtime No. 2 man, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, for the alleged criminal wrongdoing.
The most significant part of the memo concerns a search warrant that Hendershott allegedly directed to be served on the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, with whom Arpaio, also a Republican, has been embroiled in a lengthy feud. Arpaio and an ally, former County Atty. Andrew Thomas, filed conflict-of-interest charges against two supervisors that were quickly dismissed by judges as legally unsound.
Those charges, and investigations of the judges and other critics that followed, are believed to be at the heart of the federal grand jury probe.
Munnell wrote that, since the anti-corruption unit was formed in 2007, "it has been the pattern and practice of this unit to conduct politically motivated investigations at the implicit direction of Hendershott."
Munnell wrote that Hendershott ordered the department's anti-corruption team to write the search warrant to raid county offices. But team members refused, saying there were no legal grounds for such a search.
Munnell wrote that Hendershott threatened to "machine-gun" his staff to get them to write a warrant. The next day, a top aide to Thomas urged sheriff's investigators to use "creative writing" to justify the search. The leaders of the squad refused again. Munnell wrote that Hendershott soon replaced several of them.
But you'll notice that this memo is actually designed to whitewash Arpaio's role in the undeniable trail of corruption and political thuggery here, as Stephen Lemons observes -- because Hendershott was explicitly operating at Arpaio's behest, and on Arpaio's orders:
Arpaio and Hendershott. Hendershott and Arpaio. Joined at the hip in iniquity, like the Sith.
In the affidavit, Hendershott makes it plain to Wetherell that he's doing his dirty deeds on the sheriff's behalf.
"The dime droppers are going to learn that if you fuck with the Sheriff, you die," Hendershott says at one point in the document.
Wetherell recalled Hendershott saying, "We have to protect the Sheriff from dime droppers," and, "We will make an example of Mark Battilana so that these fucking dime droppers will keep their fucking mouths shut."
Interestingly, Wetherell told Ortega at the time that Hendershott began to target the lieutenant after he began to raise questions about the pink underwear money.
One of those to whom Weatherell says he forwarded the info was none other Lisa Allen, portrayed as a white hat in the Munnell memo for supposedly warning Arpaio about Hendershott's misdeeds.
And people wonder why I'm skeptical of the Munnell memo.
Indeed, the recent firing of former assistant county attorney Lisa Aubuchon opened a real can of worms in the FBI's investigation of Arpaio's abuse of power in Maricopa County -- which is what the Munnell memo is meant to cover.
It appears that Arpaio and Munnell are trying to get ahead of the factual findings in the FBI investigation, and are planning to make Hendershott the scapegoat in that case. Lotsa luck with that. Arpaio's onetime right-hand men have a propensity to spill their guys once their boss turns on them.