Vague stuff, I know, but when I crashed a reception for Burke at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix — a reception sponsored by Congressman Ed Pastor and political consultant Ronnie Lopez — the buzz that day was all about Arpaio's raid on Chicanos por la Causa. Several of the big-shot attorneys present (none of whom would go on the record) whispered to me that "things are happening," but they buttoned their lips beyond that.

That and $1.50 will buy me a half-hour at a downtown parking meter. Spotting Burke in the flesh, hobnobbing with the crowd there to celebrate his official swearing in as U.S. Attorney, I approached him and asked him when he was going to take on Arpaio.

"People are afraid," I told him. "They're waiting for your office to do something about this man."

That's me (to the right, grimacing), as portrayed by Jerry Mendoza, performing CPR on a certain corrupt top cop during James Garcia's American Pastorela: The Saga of Sheriff Joe.
Charles Dee Rice Photography / cdricephotography.com
That's me (to the right, grimacing), as portrayed by Jerry Mendoza, performing CPR on a certain corrupt top cop during James Garcia's American Pastorela: The Saga of Sheriff Joe.

Details

Read another example of racial profiling by Sheriff Joe's forces in New Times' series "Are Your Papers in Order?" This week: "The American Artist."

Burke replied that he could "neither confirm nor deny" any investigation under way by his office into the sheriff, but he invited me to "read into what I just said."

I pressed him, pointing out that he had made statements to the media explaining that the priorities of his office will be mortgage fraud and border violence. Laudable efforts to be sure, but what about political corruption and intimidation?

"You want a quote for your article," he replied. "You wanna write an article. I'm just telling you that I don't think giving you a quote would solve the problem."

"So you admit there is a problem?" I countered.

"Of course, there's a problem," he said. "You're not going to solve it with my quote."

I also asked Burke about statements made by former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias during a CBS 5 interview about how he would have worked closely with a grand jury to seek an indictment of Arpaio.

"I don't want to litigate it [here]," he said.

Burke's later remarks to his audience did not mention Arpaio or allude to him in any way.

His intriguing comments to me aside, it's difficult to put a lot of bank on Burke, knowing that he worked as chief of staff for former Governor Janet Napolitano, who helped secure his recent appointment as U.S. Attorney.

Napolitano and Arpaio were allies during the former's rise to prominence in Ari-bama, with Arpaio even doing a campaign ad for Napolitano during her first gubernatorial run. Joe ticked off fellow Republicans with that one, but Arpaio had been the recipient of Napolitano's assistance when she was U.S. Attorney. Back then, she punted on a criminal investigation of his office when attorney Mike Manning presented her underlings with evidence of obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence in the infamous death of Scott Norberg while in the MSCO's custody.

This was brought up in Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey's November 24, 2008 cover story, "Napolitano's Sorry Service in Arizona Makes Her a Terrible Choice for Homeland Security Secretary."

While a U.S. Attorney, Napolitano lent Arpaio political cover during a news conference with the sheriff by referring to an Arpaio settlement with the feds as nothing more than "a lawyer's paper."

Napolitano was generally a do-nothing Democrat as governor, and she was careful never to openly criticize the wild man on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo Tower. She eventually abandoned Arizona in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis to take the top job at the Department of Homeland Security.

With the Latino community terrorized by Arpaio's anti-immigrant raids, Napolitano took the half-measure this year of suspending Arpaio's street authority under the 287(g) program, which turns beat cops into immigration agents. But she's allowed Arpaio to keep 287(g) in his vast incarceration complex. And Arpaio continues his anti-brown dragnets unhindered by federal restraints.

So what should we expect from Napolitano's operative? Surely, Burke is feeling the heat. County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, now the subject of an Arpaio-Thomas indictment, is well connected and has long been a confidante and defender of Napolitano's.

Chicanos por la Causa is even better connected than Wilcox, falling as it does under the umbrella of the politically mighty National Council of La Raza, which has direct ties to Barack Obama's administration in the personage of White House director of governmental affairs Cecilia Muñoz, formerly NCLR's senior vice president for its Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation.

During a recent press conference at CPLC's state headquarters, current La Raza board chair Danny Ortega referred to Chicanos por la Causa as one of La Raza's "oldest and most trusted affiliates." He also pointed out that La Raza helps fund Chicanos por la Causa.

So when Arpaio attacks CPLC, he's also attacking La Raza and, perhaps by proxy, the Obama administration. This political daisy chain is not one Burke can ignore. Ultimately, it would have to be Burke who acts. He's the one on the ground in Arizona. He's the one who could lead a grand jury in an investigation of Arpaio and Thomas.

Sadly, the DOJ's Civil Rights Division has not instilled confidence in the anti-Joe crowd.

One immigrant-rights advocate said the DOJ's top investigators — Earl Saunders, Sarah Lopez, and Je Yon Jung — have visited Arizona about nine times in over a year, often with other investigators in tow. Activists have labored to bring numerous victims of Arpaio's racial profiling to the DOJ-ers for them to interview. Others, such as local videographer Dennis Gilman, have spent their own money to FedEx to the DOJ videotapes of Joe's beige patrol in action. But since Arpaio's October sweep in Surprise, when Saunders, Lopez, and Jung attended an Arpaio press conference and were harassed by MCSO deputy chief Paul Chagolla, the activists I've spoken with haven't heard much from them.

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4 comments
Stanley Lee
Stanley Lee

For me i would really help if i knew mouth to mouth in order to save life. But in this case I would rather back up and stay quiet.What would you think is the best way?

Stanley Lee from Amortisseur voiture 

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Stacy
Stacy

I do wish the Feds come in and just take over. Its been done before in the past. Look at what happened to LAPD's Rampart Division.. the DOJ just came in and took over there and that wasn't that long ago in history.

Regarding giving Arpaio mouth to mouth.. ewe. I wonder if he's got Hendershot breath? ugh, gross!(you figure out what I mean by that)

paramedic
paramedic

mouth to mouth NO WAY and I am trained to do that. I would give mouth to mouth on a skunk first! That had just sprayed!

 
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