Lacey and Larkin warned the public that Wilenchik was after information on the reading habits of all visitors to this website going back several years, and that he wanted to cripple New Times financially with $90 million a year in fines.
Chilling stuff. But it got more chilling when Lacey and Larkin were arrested hours after their article was published. Wilenchik has always contended that he did not order the Third World-style arrests, though he was in fact demanding that the court have Lacey, Larkin and three of their lawyers handcuffed and booked.
Wilenchik's claims also were belied by the account of former Maricopa County Superior Court Judge William French. He explained to New Times that Wilenchik told a colleague, "`No more Mr. Nice Guy. We're going to arrest them.'"
(Arpaio's fired enforcer Chief Deputy David Hendershott has tried to take the blame for ordering the arrests as well, in what many observers believe was an attempt to deflect attention from the sheriff.)
And so, the arrests took place, leaving both Thomas and Wilenchik with one of the blacker marks on their blemished careers.
You'd think Wilenchik's involvement in this sordid affair, his well-documented issues with the truth, and superior court Judge Timothy Ryan's characterization of Wilenchik as "a threat to public safety," would give Governor Brewer some pause in granting him any authority or influence.
Brewer's office did not respond to any of my inquiries on the subject. (As of the publication of this blog, the Department of Real Estate has yet to get back to me as well.) Her official letter to Wilenchik on the appointment, which accompanies a recent online press release, heaps lavish praise on the pugnacious mold-litigation specialist.
"The State of Arizona and I are fortunate that you have agreed to be appointed to the Real Estate Advisory Board," Brewer enthuses. "One of the satisfactions of holding office is the opportunity to recognize outstanding citizens by naming them to positions of leadership within our state government."
Calling Wilenchik an "outstanding citizen" is like calling Genghis Khan a pacifist. But considering that this is the same governor who made bogus claims about law enforcement finding headless bodies in the Arizona desert, I should not be surprised by the hyperbole.
Nor is Brewer known for the outstanding quality of her appointments, her wish to fill a seat on the Arizona Board of Regents with a right-wing blogger/lobbyist being one recent example.
Currently, New Times is suing Wilenchik, Thomas and Arpaio over the arrests. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year kept Wilenchik as a defendant while Thomas and Arpaio scored varying degrees of immunity.
That ruling has been appealed to a larger, en banc panel of the high court. A decision could come any week now.