Sheriff Joe wants to read Phil Gordon’s e-mail

When Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon spoke out against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he had to know that retaliation would be swift.

After all, past critics of the sheriff's office have been investigated, smeared, even jailed.

It didn't take Gordon long to join the list.

Eduardo Barraza

On April 24, four weeks after Gordon's widely publicized denunciation of the sheriff at a César Chávez luncheon, sheriff's deputies fired off a public-records request seeking the mayor's e-mails, cell phone records, and meeting calendar.

The letter also demands e-mail correspondence for Police Chief Jack Harris, City Manager Frank Fairbanks, and all of Gordon's administrative staff. In all, the sheriff's investigators are seeking every single e-mail written by more than a dozen Phoenix staffers, from November to the date of the sheriff's demand.

But get this.

The Sheriff's Office claims this isn't about the mayor, or the city of Phoenix. No, it's about the sheriff's own agency — Arpaio supposedly needs voluminous information about Gordon & Co. in order to investigate his own deputies for racial profiling.

Right.

Arpaio began sponsoring "crime suppression sweeps" earlier this year, bringing hundreds of deputies and volunteer posse members to heavily Hispanic areas. Residents were pulled over for minor traffic offenses and questioned about their immigration status.

Gordon decried the practice in a series of high-profile speeches, beginning with the Chavez lunch in March. "The posse didn't lock up murderers," Gordon noted at the luncheon, correctly. "They locked up people with broken tail lights." He has since asked the Department of Justice to investigate the department.

But the department claims it's ready to investigate itself. Naturally, its top resources won't be its own records or its deputies — no, it needs Gordon's e-mails, phone records, and calendar information.

"[M]embers of the City of Phoenix Government alleged that racial profiling occurred by personnel from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," wrote Deputy Travis Anglin of the sheriff's Internal Affairs Division, in a letter obtained by New Times. "Based on this information, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has initiated an internal investigation."

Then Anglin claimed that the mayor's e-mail and phone records were needed to "further" the investigation.

It's about the most disingenuous explanation I've ever heard, and that's saying something. Sure, Anglin did throw in two lines near the end of his four-page letter asking for "any complaints or reports" that the mayor received about the Sheriff's Office. But even that strikes me as an attempt to track down the sheriff's critics — not get to the bottom of any profiling allegations.

There is absolutely no way the Sheriff's Office needs the mayor's complete e-mail correspondence to figure out whether the sheriff is targeting Mexicans. And there's no reason Anglin would need to look at the mayor's calendar or his cell phone records, other than harassment, intimidation — or pure nosiness. Same with Fairbanks; same with Police Chief Harris.

Through his spokesman, Gordon declined comment. Toni Maccarone, a spokeswoman for the city, said that Phoenix intends to comply with the request. The Sheriff's Office did not respond to a request seeking comment.

Recent history shows that such requests have become one of the sheriff's favorite tricks of the trade.

Last fall, Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas were battling the judiciary over bail for illegal immigrants. Thomas and Arpaio argued that the judges were letting potential murderers walk free — and Thomas' former boss, Dennis Wilenchik, went to court on the county attorney's behalf to argue that the entire roster of Maricopa County judges had to recuse themselves from cases involving illegal immigrants — as if that was ever going to happen.

Have no doubt about it: This was a public relations war. And in December, Arpaio's press aide, Captain Paul Chagolla, made it clear just how far the sheriff was willing to go. He fired off a public-records request to Court Administrator Marcus Reinkensmeyer, demanding all his e-mail correspondence, every e-mail sent or received by Reinkensmeyer's aides, and all letters and memos that have passed through the court administrator's office, too.

We may never know exactly what they were looking for, other than dirt. Reinkensmeyer responded that filling the request would require his staff to review a staggering 16,000 e-mails. He asked Chagolla to narrow the request. Chagolla refuses to do so; the matter appears to be at an impasse.

Also last year, Arpaio and Thomas were investigating Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. At a press conference, the twosome alleged Goddard may have gone soft when prosecuting the state's former treasurer, in exchange for a hefty civil fee paid to state coffers.

But that may not have been the point. Last year, Arpaio's office put in six public-records requests to Goddard's office seeking hundreds of pages of documents — many of them the same records they'd previously received from Goddard via subpoena.

Subpoenaed records, no matter how embarrassing, are sealed. But documents obtained under the public-records law can be released to the press. The Sheriff's Office obviously hoped to embarrass Goddard, even if they didn't have enough to indict him.

Which brings us to Gordon.

A busy and ambitious politician, Gordon separated from his wife in January. He's also the subject of a recall effort led by the sheriff's supporters.

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14 comments
Linda Skoien
Linda Skoien

Keep up all your good work ...We the people do appreciate all that you stand for and do wish we had a person like you in California and oregon.. Both states have so much crime and wasted monies on these people whom need to go back to their own country and not bleed ours dry.. Did I say I am a grandma with these views and know hundreds more who share my same views on this serious matter.

Concerned Taxpayer
Concerned Taxpayer

The comment below still applies, and it's December!

"Arpaio and his Goons are so out of control it's actually becoming dangerous for all Maricopa County Citizens.

When does this tyrant meet his end ?

When does Arpaio finally pay for all the death, destruction and lives he's destroying in his wake ?

Comment by Coz from Peoria on May 15th, 2008, 01:29 am

Jim
Jim

test

Philaberto
Philaberto

Thinking man writes "Only eight comments? AZ Central usually has hundreds"

That's because there is only a handful of you pathetic liberal whining babies, and thank God for that. Another positive side to abortion.

Thinking Man
Thinking Man

Only eight comments? AZ Central usually has hundreds. Arpaio is a moron and publicity seeking crook. I just moved mack to Phoenix after being away for several years. I am amazed that the citizens of the county have put up with such shameless graft and corruption. It's amazing what fear can do.

I only agree with the New Times about 25% of the time, but profiling or not, this buffoon has got to go.

rainbow bomb
rainbow bomb

like all suspects, he's got plenty to hide. so he plays a victim when inactuality he's getting nervous of all this overt and covert efforts which are criminal. Plus his sympathy for white supremacy and irrational dehumanization of mexican humans.

really, it's gotten too far and he's got to confront what he's initiated.

there are pictures and videos. plus piles and piles of records and he's sifting attention off himself toward mr mayor and gov. it's obvious. not to mention the human rights violations by his major link to psychiatric sources drugging prisoners and ruining their sanity. on and on. he definitely needs to be stopped...$$$$$$$$$ don't go with you when your spirit leaves your flesh.

Hank Hill
Hank Hill

Here is an email that Sheriff Joke and his deputies can read - kiss my ass.

Who does this jack ass think he is? Is Joke completely senile or is Chicken Little Chagolla running the show at MCSO?

My theory is Joke has totally checked out mentally and his puppeteers are using him as a front for fraud.

Here it is again - Kiss my ass!

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Sarah, Thank you for the courage to write about the out-of-control sheriff and his enablers. Your article a outstanding and a great public service. We are all grateful -- especially those who have been silenced in fear. Of course that's the culture they created. We will flip the switch this election and get rid of the tyrants. We're tired of living in a Third World country run by a Troika.

Vote for Dan Saban for Sheriff, Gerald Richard for County Attorney!

Shaking my head in wonder
Shaking my head in wonder

There it is folks, YOUR tax dollars at work... "doing what?", you say...

Just ONE more vendetta...

Coz
Coz

Acutally, two bit punk ass Whore I think fits better...

>>Truth is. he is nothing more than a two bit punk ass bitch.

Michael
Michael

I could almost see Arpaios actions if he was an actual law enforcement officer. Truth is. he is nothing more than a two bit punk ass bitch.

THE REPEATER
THE REPEATER

Arpaio and his Goons are so out of control it's actually becoming dangerous for all Maricopa County Citizens.

When does this tyrant meet his end ?

When does Arpaio finally pay for all the death, destruction and lives he's destroying in his wake ?

Coz
Coz

Arpaio and his Goons are so out of control it's actually becoming dangerous for all Maricopa County Citizens.

When does this tyrant meet his end ?

When does Arpaio finally pay for all the death, destruction and lives he's destroying in his wake ?

 
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