Phoenix's KPHO-Channel 5 broke the news yesterday:
The FBI is looking into accusations that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is using his position to settle political vendettas.
Over the past year, 5 Investigates examined more than two dozen complaints against the sheriff from business owners, government workers, mayors and law-enforcement officials.
They claim they spoke out against Arpaio, and shortly after, deputies paid them unwelcome visits.
Among the public officials who have been victimized by Arpaio's little reign of terror in Maricopa County:
-- Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who sicced the Justice Department on Arpaio for his racial-profiling practices.
-- Mesa Police Chief
-- Dan Saban, who ran against the sheriff in 2004 and 2008
-- Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard
-- Maricopa County Manager David Smith
-- The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
-- Superior Court Presiding Judge Barbara Mundell
-- ACLU attorney Daniel Pochoda
We described Arpaio's incredible thuggery late last year in his dealings with the public, especially those who dare criticize him. An anti-Arpaio group called Maricopa Citizens for Safety Accountability, which formed last year in response to investigative reports and studies demonstrating that Arpaio's insane obsession with illegal immigrants was destroying his office's ability to actually deal with real law enforcement work, began showing up at county board meetings and asking to speak. Arpaio actually sent out his deputies in force to patrol these meetings, and they arrested people for merely applauding Arpaio's critics.
The KPHO reporters also talked to former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, made famous as one of the people fired by Karl Rove for failing to be political enough in his prosecutions. His assessment was damning indeed;
"I've been in and around law enforcement for about 20 years -- state, local and federal level (and) even some military prosecution work. I've never seen anything like this," Iglesias said after he looked through 5 Investigates' research and did some on his own.
If he were handling the case, Iglesias said, "I would work very closely with the civil rights division in Washington, D.C., and based on the information I have, I would seek an indictment."
Arpaio did offer a response in his inimitable smear-the-critics style:
There were a number of blatantly false and incorrect assertions in Thursday night’s incredibly long and laborious TV story on Channel 5 in which the reporter insinuated that Sheriff Arpaio and his office are breaking the law by “investigating anyone who criticizes the Sheriff.”
Rather than dignify the reporter and his piece with a lengthy response to assertions made, we will simply respond with a few ‘facts’ of our own.
Their expert interview who insisted that an indictment be sought against Sheriff Arpaio also said that no where in America should Arpaio’s tactics ever be tolerated. His name is David Iglesias. This is the same attorney who was fired in 2006 by the US Attorney General for several different reasons.
Iglesias was criticized for looking the other way in an investigation involving ACORN, an organization that embraces illegal immigration and is currently under intense scrutiny and investigation by the US government for fraudulent schemes.
Paul Charleton, a colleague of Iglesias and was often quoted in the Channel 5 piece, was also a U.S. Attorney fired in that same 2006 house cleaning by the U.S. Attorney General. Now he is the attorney of record for Don Stapley in his fraud investigation which obviously leaves Charleton as an impartial and bias observer of the facts.
Channel 5 has a few reporters and photographers working there who have an axe to grind against this Office. That’s fine. But when it shows up as obviously as it did in last night’s report, it underscores why many today feel that fair and impartial journalism has gone the way of the dinosaur.
I somehow don't think carping about reporters is going to hold much water with the FBI and the Department of Justice, though.
Karma is headed Joe Arpaio's way. It won't be pretty, but it's long, long overdue.