In the Crosshairs

County lawmen boffing hookers isn't Sheriff Joe's only problem. Fed up with his thuggery, Arpaio's own political party has targeted him for defeat

"It's quite evident he chose sides," says Larry Pickard, the Glendale justice candidate who is also a former GOP district chairman.

County Republican leaders are now poised to make Arpaio pay for his betrayal by asking several thousand precinct committeemen to withdraw their support of him in the September primary. Because of the votes these chairmen influence, their defection could have a devastating effect on Arpaio's chances in the primary.

"He doesn't have the support among the voters like he thinks he does," says Norton.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office posse man Glenn Coffman gets naked with an alleged prostitute.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office posse man Glenn Coffman gets naked with an alleged prostitute.
James Saville spent four years in jail after he was 
entrapped by Arpaio's detectives in a publicity stunt. His 
sister, Linda Saville, has co-founded the group Mothers 
Against Arpaio.
Jackie Mercandetti
James Saville spent four years in jail after he was entrapped by Arpaio's detectives in a publicity stunt. His sister, Linda Saville, has co-founded the group Mothers Against Arpaio.

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When all this comes up in the New Times interview with the sheriff, he brings up a recent meeting with George W. Bush in which he claims the president said: "You're solid as a rock."

Arpaio adds, "I'm on Bush's steering committee. I guess if I was in that bad of a condition, I don't think they would want to associate with the sheriff."

It's highly conceivable that the president is too busy with Iraq to have familiarity with Maricopa County politics. But even with what he says is Bush's strong support, Arpaio is afraid to participate in debates with his two Republican rivals.

He amazingly claims he is too busy with his law enforcement duties to have time for politics.

The bottom line is, Arpaio has little to gain from allowing his Republican rivals to take shots at him on the campaign trial. His advisers feel it could only erode a 71 percent approval rating from Republicans in a countywide poll conducted in February of 600 registered voters in the county. Done by the Behavior Research Center of Arizona, the poll showed Arpaio's approval rating was 54 percent among Democrats and Independents.

But the poll was taken four months ago, well before the GOP vote against backing him and the commencement of the party's vendetta against his re-nomination.

And it was before the Mothers Against Arpaio, the police organizations and County Attorney Rick Romley began unleashing salvos about his treachery, ineptitude or thuggery.

The GOP leadership is not only angry about his support of Napolitano, it is annoyed by intimidation tactics he's used against political opponents in the party.

"I'm one of the ones who is running as fast as I can away from him," says Fred Taylor, a law enforcement liaison for former Republican governor Fife Symington and current chairman of the African American Republicans Committee.

Taylor says Arpaio's reliance on fear tactics and blatant attempts to intimidate political rivals has reached a dangerous threshold.

"You'd think you were watching something going on in the times of Mussolini," Taylor says. "It's scary stuff!"

Taylor says he was telephoned by an Arpaio aide, who gave him the third-degree about supporting Saban. The call from former Phoenix mayor Thelda Williams infuriated Taylor, who equated it to Mob strong-arm tactics.

"I was shocked that somebody would do that," he says.

African-Americans, Taylor says, are particularly sensitive to questioning about their voting preferences, since that tactic was used by segregationists to intimidate black voters.

Arpaio personally called District 22 chairman Norton after the Gilbert district voted 121-1 not to endorse the incumbent in the primary. The district vote came three weeks before the Republican Executive Guidance Committee adopted the same measure to withdraw support for Arpaio.

Norton says Arpaio told him he was angry over the district's vote and that Arpaio leveled a veiled threat.

"He certainly came across that he wanted me to know that he knew who I was and where I worked," says Norton, who's employed by Sharper Image. "He made me feel like it was something out of The Sopranos."

Says Pickard, "Anyone who has openly opposed the sheriff I think has had their personal past scrutinized very heavily. If you come out against the sheriff, you get a big bull's eye."

Just ask Dan Saban.

The retired Mesa police commander is Arpaio' strongest Republican rival for sheriff. He quickly found himself the target of a criminal investigation by the sheriff's office.

The probe was triggered in May after Saban's foster mother alleged that he had raped her more than 30 years ago when he was in his late teens. The woman had never filed a complaint, and Saban has denied the allegation, which appears dubious at best.

But rather than turning the case over to another police agency since it involved a political rival, Arpaio's detectives rushed out to interview the woman.

It was only after the detectives' report landed on his desk, according to Arpaio, that he realized there was a conflict of interest. He says he then forwarded the case to the Pima County Sheriff's Office for an independent investigation. (Pima County dropped the probe recently, citing lack of evidence.)

Whatever Arpaio's involvement, the sheriff's office criminal report somehow found its way to a Phoenix television news station in short order. Armed with a copy, Channel 15 ambushed Saban after a campaign appearance. He vehemently denied the woman's claim.

But the damage was done. It was a direct hit on his campaign, forcing him to issue a statement on his Web site denying the allegation. Even more damaging is that the claim has increased scrutiny of Saban's personal life, which includes four divorces.

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2 comments
Enemies List needs updating
Enemies List needs updating

It's time to get rid of "elected" officials as Sheriff and County Attorney. They have politicized law enforcement and the justice system putting all at risk to be used as their political pawns.

Need legislation for oversight and accountability of these offices. Hire professionals with higher standards then the minimal, inadequate standards that exist for these positions.

The people have had enough of abuse of power by thomas and arpaio!

 
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