It's the sound of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas saying absolutely nothing after their March 11 news conference was shown to be a total farce.
At the conference with the elected officials and their attorney, Robert Driscoll, reporters and the public were led to believe the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section had agreed to do something more than it would do for the average prison inmate penning a complaint letter. That was the supposed reason the racketeering lawsuit against county officials, lawyers, and judges was dropped.
As you should know from New Times' scoop last week, the boss of the Public Integrity Section wrote in a letter he was "dismayed" at the way Thomas and Arpaio's "mere referral of information" was portrayed at the news conference and in a federal court pleading.
The March 12 letter by Raymond Hulser was a rare moment when the spin suddenly stops, and the truth becomes visible.
Many folks, including us, figured the reason Thomas and Arpaio gave for withdrawing the RICO suit was just more burro droppings from the two. Hulser's letter proved it.
If Hulser is to be believed, he was conned in more ways than one.
He states he hadn't expected to receive thousands of pages of investigative files, without so much as a summary. And he states that Driscoll "agreed to provide your information in writing, and to copy the U.S. Attorney on your correspondence."
We checked in with the U.S. Attorney's Office today -- as we expected, we were told that
the correspondence sent to the Public Integrity Section was not copied to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Driscoll, reached by phone in Washington D.C. today, declined to comment for this article. Neither Hulser nor anyone else at the Public Integrity Section would comment, either.
(We also double-checked with the Sheriff's Office today for any info about the public money being used to pay Driscoll -- and were rebuffed again.)
Our elected officials, Arpaio and Thomas, owe the public an explanation.
And they're being as quiet as church mice.
Arpaio, or somebody in his office on his behalf, is an avid user of Twitter, and he or they have chosen to let the public know who he's supporting in the Winnebago County sheriff's race, but not what he thinks of Hulser's letter.
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Consider the malarkey Arpaio has posted on his office's Web site: A March 11 news release states that "Federal officials have agreed to undertake a review of the Sheriff's investigative files."
If Arpaio didn't know that was a lie before Hulser's letter -- and
we're betting he did -- than he sure knows it now. Hulser's flat-out
contradicted that idea in his March 12 letter, writing that his office
would not be reviewing those files.
We disagree with the Arizona Republic's assessment in its editorial yesterday headlined, "County Drama Concludes With A Whimper."
Hulser's letter was pure TNT.