The stink from Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office wafts on:
Joel Fox, the love-swollen former captain under Arpaio who played patsy in a law-bending scheme to bolster Arpaio's 2008 campaign, will find out today what the Maricopa County Merit System Commission thinks of his effort to appeal his October 2011 firing. It seems doubtful that he'll get his old job back, but it's always possible.
The hearing, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on the 10th floor of the county administration building, 301 West Jefferson, follows a lengthy appeal process that began in January. At one point, the hearing was held up on the question of whether the U.S. Attorney's office was still investigating the campaign scheme (which we call the SCA Scandal, because of the shady Sheriff's Command Association that raised money secretly to fund an attack ad against Dan Saban, Arpaio's Democratic opponent in 2008).
As we now know, the feds investigation into alleged crimes by Arpaio and his current or former employees has ended. That investigation included the SCA matter, which was referred to the feds in March of 2011 by Republican Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.
We figured the SCA case would be an easy one to prosecute, at least against Fox, former Deputy Chief Larry Black and former Chief Deputy David Hendershott, the latter of whom coordinated the operation. Arpaio likely knew about everything, the evidence shows. One of the most telling clues: When the scandal broke in the media, Arpaio -- who knew Hendershott, Black and Fox had been part of it -- protected his employees with his silence until the public findings of a high-profile investigation forced him to take action against his loyal men.
The scandal also stained the state Republican Party. Notable GOP officials apparently in on the conspiracy included former state party chairman Randy Pullen, former party executive director Sean McCaffery, another former executive director, Brett Mecum, Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash, GOP consultant Chris Baker and former House Speaker Jim Weiers.
The Merit System Commission is expected to vote on Fox's fate after hearing brief arguments by each side, Fox and the Sheriff's Office that betrayed him. But Cari Gerchick, county spokeswoman, tells us that Fox can still appeal the Merit System Commission decision to County Superior Court.
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Knowing how Fox likes to play lawyer, we'd be disappointed if he didn't do so. Fox is still acting as his own counsel in his ongoing lawsuit against Cox Communications.
UPDATE: Fox loses his appeal to get his job back. Click here for more info on the merit board's decision, plus documents from the case.