I met Joe Arpaio at a Paradise Valley Chamber of Commerce Breakfast in 1983. He and I were two of six candidates running for the Phoenix City Council from the newly formed District 1. He stood at the podium with his hair greased back wearing horned rimmed black glasses spending the next 10 minutes bombastically touting his service for the Drug Enforcement Agency in Central America — how he had taken out drug dealers and all. It was gross. He finished fourth. Wrong guy, wrong office, wrong time.
For the next several years, Joe and his wife ran a travel agency in Scottsdale. He came to my office in 1992 asking me to be his campaign finance director in his quest to become Maricopa County Sheriff. Of course I declined. I knew then what I know now: Joe Arpaio is all about Joe Arpaio. Being sheriff was never about doing the job he was elected to do, but all about promoting himself as the “Toughest Sheriff in America.” That’s why, 20 years later, 40,000-plus felony warrants remain unserved. That’s why over $100 million dollars has been misspent. That’s why tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have been paid out in lawsuit settlements for various forms of abuse. That’s why several of his top aides have resigned in disgrace, and now the hammer may have finally fallen on big mouth himself. It looks like those 400-plus botched rape and sexual assault cases against women and children may be Joe’s final curtain call.
A few days ago, both Republican U.S. Sens. McCain and Kyl essentially stood aside thus encouraging the U.S. Department of Justice to look into investigating Arpaio regarding these botched cases. Nothing outrages people in this country more than women and children being sexually violated. Nothing is more unforgivable than those crimes going uninvestigated or poorly investigated. Last week, Arpaio begrudgingly apologized to the victims saying “if there were any victims.” If there were any victims? What an outrage! Folks, that statement by Arpaio tells you everything you ever wanted to know about this person.
Of the 432 reopened investigations, 428 have been completed, resulting in only 19 arrests. The sheriff’s office said 116 cases were deemed to have no basis in fact or stories that didn’t add up. A few years later, are we surprised? OK, maybe I’ll buy some of that, but let’s look closer. More than 220 of the cases had victims who didn’t want their cases pushed forward, were turned down by prosecutors, or weren’t submitted to prosecutors because they didn’t have enough evidence. It is not uncommon for sexually-abused women and children to choose to live in a familiar hell than to allow their “loved” ones to be brought to justice. Time will further deafen their silence. Sixty-nine cases had no information to warrant further investigation. Duh. Ya think that he may have lost a little data over the years? He may be tough on illegals, but he apparently chooses to overlook alleged sex crimes. Joe’s ineptitude has finally caught up with him. Hard to believe that it has taken nearly 20 years!
Resignation, however, is not enough. Arpaio epitomizes what many of us refer to as a “domestic terrorist.” Over the years he has not-so covertly abused the powers of his office to terrorize common citizens, judges, lawyers, elected officials — anyone for that matter who would stand in his way or criticize his performance. It is my belief that he is a criminal and deserves to go to jail.
It’s a sad commentary that the voters in Maricopa County have continued to be duped by Arpaio over and over again. For many years, I and many others have been telling you the truth about this tyrant and yet you reelect him to office. His litany of carnage both in human and financial terms is without question. It’s waaaaay past time for Joe to go. Remember, I told you so!