Like a lumpy wad of flavorless, chewed gum, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's recently "retired" top flack, Lisa Allen, continues to cling to Arpaio's weathered boot-heel, working as a public-relations "vendor" on a contract basis for her old boss, from her new home in Boise, Idaho.
Allen resigned effective February 2, after 23 years of pimping for the man she once publicly referred to as a "media whore," but the fix already was in when it came to the MCSO's request that Allen continue working for the Sheriff's Office on a part-time basis for $102 per hour, according to her weekly invoices.
County documents provided to New Times in response to a public-records request show that Allen's "sole source" contract says she will be doing many of the same things she did for Arpaio previously, such as "writing press releases," editing and reviewing "correspondence and other material generated by MCSO," and "assisting MCSO with relationships with individuals, media companies, and other companies as well."
In other words, it's work any number of PR types in Maricopa County could handle, and likely for less money, not to mention the several staff that still work for the MCSO's public information unit.
And yet, when Maricopa County's Office of Procurement Services asks in one form if "vendors with similar capabilities" were considered for the position, the MCSO's answer is in the negative.
"No," it reads. "Being employed with MCSO in media relations for [22-plus] years gives Lisa Allen the necessary knowledge and experience of the Sheriff's Office needed to complete requested duties. This will enable her to complete the required tasks mentioned above in an accurate and timely manner."
Which means Allen gets to phone it in from Boise, which apparently she has been doing on a weekly basis since mid-February.
So far, according to county documents, Allen has submitted $2,640 in invoices to write emails, work on the MCSO's website, compose the occasional press release, and discuss things via phone with Chris Hegstrom, currently director of the sheriff's public information unit, which employs about five or six people, including support staff.
A letter of acceptance from Hegstrom to Allen states that Allen is to make herself available to the MCSO's PIO unit two hours a day, Monday through Friday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., not to exceed 10 hours per week.
Hegstrom says he will contact her by phone for "any press releases or other media-related writing" that he or the sheriff need from her immediately.
On a slow day, Allen is to use her allotted time to work on a total rewrite of MCSO.org, and compose monthly email communications "entitled 'Chats with the Chiefs,'" among other projects.
The county's procurement services form states that Allen's "quoted price" is $20,000 total. It is unclear if she can bill for more than that or if that is some sort of ceiling.
In any case, not bad for work Allen could do without bothering to change out of her housecoat.
Interestingly, Allen's been submitting her invoices from Boise under the "doing business as" name of "The Wizard of Paws and Prose."
The business' listing with the Arizona Corporation Commission was changed in January from its former name, "the Wizard of Paws," which apparently was a mobile dog-grooming business Allen operated.
Last year, Allen listed her 2014 Ford dog-grooming van for sale on the site UsedGroomingVans.com, asking for $59,500, with the following pitch:
"Lisa in Arizona says: Selling van and client list. Move to beautiful Phoenix, Arizona and start earning money right away. Long list of clients from a 12 year old successful business. Van/list sold separately/together. Owner retiring. Van is perfect in and out."
The listing notes that Allen's "Wag'n Tails Pet Pro Van" — with 8,750 miles on it and a "Super Sudser" water-massage system — since has been sold.
Regular Arpaio-watchers may remember that in 2008, Allen appeared on an Animal Planet reality show, Groomer Has It, where she was the first contestant kicked off, after miserably failing the introductory challenge: grooming a fake dog made of yarn.
True to her reputation and the authoritarian alter kocker she worked for at the time, Allen ticked off the other contestants on the show, with whom she shared a loft dubbed "the dog house," when she proclaimed herself the "den mother" of the group because of her relatively advanced age, and began ordering a list of rules for the communal bathroom.
"I'm an anti-authority kind of girl," said one female contestant of Allen's weird potty power-grab. "[Allen's attitude] just doesn't cut it for me."
When New Times first broke the story that Allen was leaving her full-time gig with Arpaio, Allen said she was relocating to Idaho to be with her new husband, a former MCSO detention officer. (Allen still owns a house in Phoenix, according to the county assessor's office.)
Allen told New Times in January that she was looking into freelancing for the MCSO somehow. But when she left in February, her replacement was cagey on the topic.
"Lisa Allen has retired and is no longer an employee with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office," Hegstrom told New Times on February 3.
Technically, that is correct.
Neither the MCSO's Hegstrom, nor Allen herself have returned calls for comment. However, Allen did respond via e-mail when asked if she was getting paid $102 per hour to write press releases, by writing, "Wrong again."
She did not reply to subsequent questions about that statement and her invoices to the county.
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