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Andrew Thomas Fired as County Attorney on Civil Matters by Board of Supervisors

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has essentially fired County Attorney Andrew Thomas when it comes to handling civil lawsuits for the county.

Thomas, who was re-elected in November to a second four-year term, will still be the county's chief prosecutor. But the county supervisors stripped Thomas of the responsibility for civil court matters in their meeting today.

The five-member board gave the authority to manage the county's  lawsuits to County Manager David Smith.

The decision upset Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who previously called the board's intention to fire Thomas "blatant retaliation" for his office's indictment of sitting County Supervisor Don Stapley. Thomas and Arpaio issued the following written statement today following the board's decision:

Recent events have shown that defendant Don Stapley, a powerful politician, has friends in high places who will try to thwart our ongoing investigation and criminal case against him.  However, we're not intimidated, and we intend to fully root out the corruption we have found.

It almost sounds like Thomas is accusing the Board of Supervisors of obstructing justice.

Maybe we're heading to a big showdown that will end with Thomas giving the sheriff the okay to arrest the supervisors. In this town, with this group of cannibalistic Republicans in charge, anything's possible. -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.