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FBI Investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Use Of Power Against Critics

Phoenix’s local KPHO-Channel 5 reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into accusations that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is “using his position to settle political vendettas” against those who have been critical of his controversial tactics, primarily his aggressive pursuit of undocumented immigrants.

KPHO lists a series of well-known Arizona public figures who were paid “unwelcome visits” by Arpaio’s deputies shortly after speaking out against the Sheriff. Following previous criticisms made by former Mesa Police Chief George Gascon, the Maricopa County police inexplicably raided Mesa City Hall and the public library in search of undocumented janitors. Gascon was one of Arpaio’s harshest critics who, on his last day on the job, was still slamming the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s (MCSO) “incompetence” and stated that Arpaio’s immigration sweeps make “absolutely no sense” and are contrary to “good policing in general.” Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate complaints of alleged racial profiling committed by Maricopa County cops. Just a few weeks later, Arpaio’s deputies demanded all of Gordan’s e-mail, phone logs and appointment calendars. “He knows he never has to prove anything,” Gordon told KPHO. “He just raises the issue, and then he hides behind the badge — and the damage is done.”

KPHO also lists Dan Saban, who ran against the sheriff in 2004 and 2008; Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who tepidly opposed the Sheriff’s immigration tactics; Superior Court Presiding Judge Barbara Mundell, who challenged Arpaio’s handling of inmates; ACLU attorney Daniel Pochoda, who has sued the MCSO several times; and the entire Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. However, all of the sources declined to speak with Arizona Republic on the record because of the a “fear of reprisal from the Sheriff’s Office.” KPHO points out that none of Arpaio’s investigations involving the individuals mentioned have resulted in convictions. Nonetheless, Arpaio has cost them “hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and tarnished reputations.”

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who was “fired by Karl Rove for failing to be political enough in his prosecutions,” told KPHO that he would seek an indictment if he were working on the case:

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“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…This is remarkable, I can’t believe this is happening in the United States. This is something that I have seen in South America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Absolutely unacceptable. We don’t do this kind of thing in this country without some kind of consequence.

The “normally talkative” Arpaio refused KPHO’s repeated requests for an on-camera interview, but did put out a release stating that KPHO “has an axe to grind against this Office” and slammed KPHO for citing “the same attorney [Iglesias] who was fired in 2006 by the US Attorney General.”

Watch the KPHO report: