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With jail time still looming in October 2002, the Deihl family came out in force at one of Outlaw Joe's campaign events. Junior, wife Kim, dad, mother Sari and a brother each contributed the maximum $340 contribution to Outlaw Joe's 2004 reelection campaign.
That brought the grand total of reported campaign contributions to Outlaw Joe by the Deihl family to $11,700.
Last December, Junior's legal team lost a final appeal in federal court, and it was time for its 38-year-old client to report to jail. Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Carol Scott Berry ordered Deihl to report to rat- and vermin-infested Estrella at 9 p.m. January 8 to begin serving his 15 days.
But (I'm sure you're way ahead of me by now) that's not where Deihl ended up, according to county jail records. Outlaw Joe sent Deihl to the Mesa Hilton to serve his time in peace and tranquility. Deihl was allowed to leave each day at 9 a.m. to go to work and had to report back to jail each evening at 9 p.m.
Sources tell me Junior was allowed to bring food and his cell phone into the comfortable lockup -- items that are forbidden at Estrella and adjacent Tent City.
A comfortable stay in a private cell is what $11,700 in campaign contributions apparently buys you with Outlaw Joe.
I called Junior the other day to ask him about his time in the Mesa Hilton, and to see if the campaign contributions followed by his stay in the exclusive Mesa calaboose was merely coincidence.
"I'd rather not talk about it," Deihl replied.
I then asked him if he was aware that his father had contributed $10,000 to Outlaw Joe's campaign, and at first, Deihl claimed ignorance.
Then, he tried to deflect the question, claiming there are more than 100 Deihls in the Phoenix area and that any one of them could have made the contribution.
But there is no doubt that the $10,000 came from Deihl's father, who is clearly identified on Arpaio's campaign finance reports.
The elder Deihl didn't return several phone calls I left at his office last week. Nor did Arpaio's campaign spokesman, Scottsdale political consultant Jason Rose.
Their silence cannot obscure the obvious.
Outlaw Joe's created a scheme that has worked marvelously. He has purposely made the county jail system, except for the Mesa Hilton, unfit for humans as part of his sadistic shtick as America's "toughest sheriff." So there will always be demand for a room at the Hilton among those with the means to give back.
It's interesting to note that the elder Deihl wasn't the only big contributor to Outlaw Joe after the campaign contribution limits came off in October 2000 because of Ayala's personal contributions to his own campaign.
On November 2, 2000, former Dial Corporation chairman and chief executive officer John W. Teets contributed $10,000. The donation came four days before the 2000 general election in which Arpaio won 66 percent of the vote, crushing Ayala, who came in with 26 percent.
It wasn't as if Outlaw Joe even needed the two $10,000 contributions from Teets and Diehl to stave off a strong opponent. The election was a foregone conclusion, and he had plenty of cash in his campaign.
The reason for Teets' hefty contribution remains a mystery. He did not return a phone message left at his residence last week.
Jailgate isn't the only problem plaguing Arpaio. Last week I documented a dozen illegal contributions to his campaign, compelling evidence that Outlaw Joe isn't adhering to campaign finance law.
Considering all that I have reported, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley could have a field day with Arpaio. But like the rest of us, he's probably hoping that the primary election will take care of his old nemesis.
If that doesn't happen and Romley refuses to act, here's an option to consider: State law allows anyregistered voter to file a formal complaint over alleged campaign violations with Romley's office, and the county attorney "shall investigate the complaint for possible action."
That is, if you file said complaint, the county attorney has no choice but to launch a probe. Go for it!