Another Blow to Thomas/Arpaio Anti-Corruption Unit -- Appeals Court Sides With Russell Jones

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This just in: Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas plans to waste even more of your tax dollars!

The Yuma Sun reports today that State Representative Russell Jones, the Yuma Republican who was the first target of the Thomas/Sheriff Joe Arpaio anti-corruption task force MACE, won a big victory yesterday when the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.

The Maricopa County Superior Court originally tossed out the charges against Jones in 2007, saying that the statute Thomas and Arpaio used to charge Jones was unconstitutionally vague. You can read the back story here -- we wrote about Jones as part of our "Target Practice" series, which examined the dynamic duo's history of abusing their power.

Yesterday's appellate court verdict upheld that decision. But don't start celebrating yet -- Thomas is apparently planning to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.

If you think this is a colossal waste of your money, why, you're absolutely right.

Even under the Arpaio/Thomas version of the case, there was little reason to use the county's resources against Jones. The worst crime he supposedly committed: signing a document saying that he personally witnessed people signing his election petitions, when it was likely a campaign volunteer.

At the time Arpaio and Thomas took this one on, the petitions in question had already been thrown out via a lawsuit. They literally made no difference in whether not Jones qualified for the ballot. In fact, Jones had already lost the election!

Even more amazing, the Arizona Supreme Court had already ruled in that civil suit that the mistakes didn't rise to the level of petition forgery. That's apparently why Thomas had to charge Jones with "presenting a false object for filing" and "willfully concealing his activities" -- the same nebulous charges the court threw out.

The big question, of course, is why they bothered. To recap: A guy from Yuma -- Yuma! -- makes a mistake on his petitions. The Supreme Court says it's not forgery. Arpaio and Thomas -- who of course have nothing to do with Yuma -- figure out a way to charge him.

Why would Maricopa County want to waste its resources on this?

Jones' lawyer, we think, had a pretty good explanation. As he explained to us in 2007, the inquiry into Jones was launched right around the time Arpaio and Thomas announced they were investigating a prominent Democrat -- Attorney General Terry Goddard.

The lawyer, Jim Belanger, believed that Thomas and Arpaio needed a Republican -- just balance things out. "Russ Jones was a politically opportunistic target," he told us. "He was an out-of-county, out-of-office Republican."

But now they've got egg on their face. So when the case fell apart, Thomas used our tax dollars to appeal it -- only to lose a second time.

And now he's going to appeal this thing AGAIN?

Really, the next time Thomas' minions bitch about the overly expensive court tower project, can someone ask them how they justify spending so much time and money on this piece-of-crap case? Someone? Anyone?

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