This past September, a financial review of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office records revealed that his office misspent at least $50 million in taxpayer dollars on fishing trips and Disneyland vacations. It turns out that those estimates were just a drop in the bucket. Arizona budget officials recently discovered a second jail account which brings the total of misspent funds up to $99.5 million over the last eight years. According to Forbes, at least some of those funds were illegally spent on Arpaio’s controversial immigration enforcement efforts:
The office of an Arizona sheriff known for efforts against illegal immigrants faces accusations that it inappropriately spent $99 million from two jail funds to pay for other law enforcement operations over the last eight years.
Maricopa County officials say Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office spent some of the money on immigration patrols and a public corruption squad that brought unsuccessful criminal cases against two county officials and a judge.
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This isn’t the the first time the sheriff’s office has faced criticism over its finances. Arpaio’s budget reportedly doubled from $37 million to $72.5 million since 2001. As of 2008, his office created a $1.3 million deficit in just three months. According to the East Valley Tribune, these costs are all a result of his immigration-enforcement crusade that has netted a lot of brown-skinned traffic violators, but neglected violent crimes and homicides which went up by 166%.
In the past, Arpaio and many of his top commanders have also been accused of “double dipping,” or collecting both retirement benefits and a salary. Arpaio reportedly is paid a pension in addition to his $97,000 salary from his former employer, the DEA.
In 2009, the FBI started looking into accusations that Arpaio has been “using his position to settle political vendettas” against those who have been critical of his controversial police tactics, primarily his aggressive pursuit of undocumented immigrants.