There's good and bad news about the deadline the Department of Justice gave Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to decide whether he'd cooperate with the feds in fixing the problems outlined in the DOJ's report on the MCSO's racial-profiling practices (last month, the DOJ concluded that the MCSO is guilty of the worst racial-profiling practices in U.S. history. Click here for all the details).
The good news: the sheriff met today's deadline and, for now, has opted to not lead taxpayers into another pricey lawsuit.
The bad: Arpaio met the deadline by making demands of the DOJ, setting a deadline for those demands, and emphatically saying he's not afraid to take the feds to court.
In other words, taxpayers aren't gonna have to cough up the cash to foot the bill for another of the sheriff's lawsuits...yet.
In a 29-page letter to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Arpaio's attorneys pledge cooperation with the federal government -- but only if the DOJ provides evidence for all the allegations it's made against the MCSO.
The sheriff's giving the feds until January 18 to meet his demands. If the DOJ fails to meet this deadline, Arpaio "will not cower to the threat of litigation," which is easy for him to say -- he's not the one paying for it; Maricopa County taxpayers will get the bill for the sheriff's litigious (ahem) toughness.
One of the many pieces of evidence Arpaio is asking for is a copy of a study the DOJ claims proves that Latino motorists are four to nine times more likely to be stopped by an MCSO deputy than non-Latino drivers.
The sheriff also wants evidence of every "individual account" the DOJ cites as evidence that Latinos are stopped by MCSO deputies based on their appearance.
"What we want for the Department of Justice to do is play ball," Arpaio says. "In other words, provide whatever proof they may have to back their findings -- proof, which, by the way, they have refused to give us or the media. And if they cannot prove their findings, which I suspect to be the case, then stop the political posturing."
In addition to setting demands, the sheriff continues to groan about how he was "blind-sided" by the DOJ's announcement of the December 15 report. He continues to assert that the entire report is politically motivated and that the Obama White House is out to get him.
The sheriff now claims that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin even apologized to him for giving the MCSO and its attorneys such short notice when the DOJ announced the findings of its investigation.
We sent a message to the DOJ asking for confirmation that the alleged apology ever happened, but we haven't heard back. We'll let you know if they get back to us.
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Meantime, read the MCSO's letter to the DOJ below.