Public shouldn't see Posse Foundation records, judge rules

* Posse Foundation members said that the foundation had been formed at the request of Arpaio and his aides. In his autobiography, America's Toughest Sheriff, Arpaio laid out his plans for the organization: that the posse should raise millions of dollars so that it could pay what taxpayers do today, the salaries of deputies who must oversee posse operations.

* Munnell said that the Posse Foundation ledgers turned over to New Times in early 1996--records supposedly created and maintained by volunteers with no connection to the Sheriff's Office--had in fact been prepared by Munnell himself on a county computer.

* Posse member Ed Arnold acknowledged that the Sheriff's Office was given original records of all deposits of underwear money into Posse Foundation bank accounts.

"There is no question that there is a close connection between the Sheriff and the Foundation, but that connection is insufficient to change the Foundation from a private organization to a public one," wrote Judge Albrecht in her decision. She also disagreed with New Times' arguments that Arpaio should have kept such records himself. "Arpaio . . . is not required to keep the records of the Foundation, therefore, the records are not public records of the Sheriff's office."

New Times has recently obtained additional Posse Foundation records which show that sloppy accounting methods are continuing.

Foundation board members say they're in the process of choosing an auditor to go once again through posse books to account for all of the money raised. How much they've raised, they won't say.

"This unfortunate ruling has the effect of sanctioning a slush fund of several hundred thousand dollars while keeping it hidden from public view," New Times editor Jeremy Voas said.

"The judge agreed that on-duty deputies, county facilities and county equipment were used to benefit the foundation--but that this somehow did not constitute an inappropriate expenditure of funds. She apparently believes all this stuff is cost-free. Under her thinking, any business should be able to get a sheriff's deputy in a cruiser to do its retailing. Perhaps we'll start having deputies circulate New Times."

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