The county that hosts the self-professed “toughest sheriff in America” settled yet another lawsuit for $1.4 million last week. In sum, Arizona’s Maricopa County has now paid at least $4.2 million to settle nine lawsuits alleging corrupt investigations by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas. “Those totals do not include millions of dollars more in attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs and costs to defend the county against the lawsuit,” according to the Arizona Republic.
The settlements arise out of search warrants and criminal charges against city players, including judges, considered “political enemies” of Thomas and Arpaio. Thomas was disbarred in April for abusing his prosecutorial powers, as the disciplinary panel called his collaboration with Arpaio an “unholy alliance.” But Arpaio, known for his flagrant anti-Latino practices and misuse of government funds, remains the county sheriff, in spite of a close election this November, and an ongoing movement to hold a recall election, which may face procedural obstacles. The corruption lawsuits are just one category of litigation launched against Arpaio, whose latest initiatives have included arming deputies with automatic weapons to prevent so-called “illegals” from escaping, and developing an armed “posse” to patrol schools that includes actor Steven Seagal. Others allege denial of an inmate’s medicine that caused her death, racial profiling, and grievous practices against Latinos.
Thomas, meanwhile, announced last week he will run for Governor, committing to protect public safety, ensure border security, and fight corruption. The Phoenix News Times is taking a poll to see who has a better chance of winning: Thomas or Clifford the Big Red Dog.