Anyone hip to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Twitter page knows that his birthday was "ruined" last weekend with the news that he was uninvited to speak at a convention of guide dog users.
As crushed as the sheriff seems to be after getting the boot from the convention, we just got word that he's blaming the wrong blind-advocacy group for his less-than-feliz compleanos and, as a result, that group may end up losing some cash.
This afternoon, Ron Brooks, president of the Arizona chapter of the American Council of the Blind, returned a call we placed Monday and told us that nobody in his organization ever voted, discussed, or considered axing Arpaio from the convention -- nor is it his organization's decision to do so.
Unfortunately, the sheriff found it necessary to very-publicly piss and moan that Brooks' group was behind his getting the boot.
In a press release Arpaio issued Monday, he is directly quoted as saying "this group says it isn't involved in politics. Well clearly they are. The local group, Arizona Council of the Blind, petitioned the National Board to have me removed, and for what, because they don't want me to enforce Arizona's immigration laws? They are out of step with our citizenry, shame on them."
As a result, Brooks says his organization has received calls from several people upset Arpaio was ousted, threatening not to donate money to his organization -- a not-for-profit group that, among other things, uses the money to fund scholarships for blind kids to attend college.
Brooks isn't sure how serious the threats are but says "when people are indicating they won't give money over this, it's obviously a concern."
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Brooks says despite the sheriff's claims that his group's responsible for Arpaio's ruined birthday, the real culprits are members of the local chapter of a group called Guide Dog Users Inc., which shares many of the same members as Brooks' group but is an entirely separate organization.
Politics, Brooks says, is not the focus of his group and to insert the immigration debate into a conference that's supposed to be about guide dogs takes the focus away from the goals of the organization.
When asked if he felt bad that Arpaio's birthday was "ruined," Brooks chuckled "I don't know, I'm a lot younger than he is and I don't care that much about my birthday. Maybe it gets more important when you get older."