Special Treatment

Is justice for sale? Ask privileged characters like Jerry Colangelo

Arpaio claimed to have shuttered the small Mesa jail several years ago. There's a sign on the front door telling visitors that the facility is closed. But the truth is, Arpaio uses the Mesa jail to house those who can either scratch his back themselves or get it scratched.

Mandie, my sources say, was allowed to bring her cell phone and her own meals into the jail, which is air-conditioned, quiet and safe. She was allowed to leave the jail each day for up to 12 hours to attend to work and to her children. Campbell had a similar arrangement.

When I asked Mandie about her stay at the Mesa jail, she politely declined to comment. She asked that I not write about the incident, but I told her it had moved into the nasty world of politics.

Sheriff Joe watches his backers.
Rand Carlson
Sheriff Joe watches his backers.

"Unbelievable!" she replied.

I left a voice message for Jerry Colangelo at his Arizona Diamondbacks office, but he did not return my call. I also requested comment from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office about Mandie's stay at the Mesa facility. As usual, the MCSO has not responded.

Obviously, Mandie Brooke Colangelo's stay in Arpaio's gulag was far, far different from the nightmare tens of thousands of others have endured inside the county's filthy clinks.

Mandie wasn't subjected to the humiliation, abuse, inedible food and the real risk of leaving jail in a body bag. Arpaio has turned our county's jails into killing fields -- which in Arizona has been considered good law enforcement.

The callous and unnecessarily brutal treatment of mostly pretrial detainees has generated Joe reams of free publicity as the "toughest sheriff in America." The handle comes in extra handy when the elite, who don't want to spend a minute in Arpaio's lockups, face jail time.

They're finding that the bottom line is, Joe can take the sting out of jail, if you can do him that favor.

Eight months after Arpaio gave Mandie the lovey-dovey treatment, Colangelo sponsored a huge fund raiser for Arpaio that netted the sheriff's campaign $50,000 in a day. At least, that's how much money has been reported on campaign finance disclosure statements.

By any measure, the February 28 Paradise Valley shindig was a stunning success fueled in large part by Colangelo's personal invitation. There's no greater draw on the fund-raising circuit in the Valley than Jerry Colangelo. His power is far greater than his mere $350 contribution to Arpaio's campaign in September 2003.

Colangelo's mug shot, along with that of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, a Democrat, appeared on the invitation that brought the Valley's rich and powerful together for an afternoon of backslapping and contributions to the Republican sheriff.

Colangelo, a man many consider to be the epitome of civic service, and Gordon appeared together to promote one of the most vile and egomaniacal officials ever elected in Arizona.

Seems Arpaio will do anything for cash. He likes to invest plenty of it in his real estate holdings, which have a market value of more than $2 million. Not bad for a guy on a civil servant's salary.

Outlaw Joe likes money so much that he has repeatedly accepted illegal campaign contributions to fatten his war chest. It had more than $204,000 in it as of June 1.

Here's how Joe has pulled off the campaign finance scam.

At the same time he was making noise about running for governor in 2002, Arpaio formed a reelection for sheriff campaign committee on December 17, 2001. That campaign committee began accepting contributions, and by the end of 2002 it had $125,000.

(Contrary to all his hemming and hawing about running for governor, Arpaio never even formed an exploratory committee that could have raised funds. Instead, it appears he used all the free publicity about his phantom run for governor to help raise money for his sheriff's campaign.)

State law requires candidates to disclose contributions through a series of reports to be filed before and after the primary and general elections. The Re-elect Joe Arpaio campaign committee compiled information on these reports in 2002 as if Arpaio was running for reelection that year. But, of course, he wasn't up for reelection until this year.

After the November 2002 election, the Re-elect Joe Arpaio campaign took out a new set of campaign finance reports to cover contributions collected in 2003 and leading up to this year's primary and general elections. The campaign violations occurred when Arpaio's campaign failed to add the money individuals contributed in 2002 to the amount the same individuals contributed in the current election cycle.

When I added the contributions individuals made in 2002 along with later contributions in 2003 and this year, I quickly found a dozen examples of where individuals contributed more than the $350 limit allowed for the sheriff's race from the time his campaign committee was formed in December 2001.

What I'm describing violates the law, says Kristi Passarelli, director of campaign finance for the Maricopa County Department of Elections.

Here's a sampling of a few of the apparent violations I discovered:

· Sheriff's office finance director Loretta Barkell gave $100 in October 2002 and $350 on February 24, 2004.

· Venture capitalist Robert Lavinia contributed $340 in May 2002 and $350 last February.

· Former AG candidate John Kaites contributed $200 in September 2002 and $350 last February.

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