As if on cue, after my column last week detailing how Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s confidential informant Dennis Montgomery was given a “free talk” in late 2013 by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office under Tom Horne, attorney Larry Klayman entered stage right, seeking to have federal Judge G. Murray Snow recuse himself from contempt proceedings against the sheriff.
Klayman — who’s sued everyone from the Clinton administration to the Iranian government to New Times (unsuccessfully) to Judicial Watch (which he founded) to his own mother — also represents Montgomery, whom Arpaio used to secretly investigate a convoluted plot involving the CIA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Snow himself, according to my sources.
The Montgomery investigation, which both Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, recently copped to under oath in these seemingly never-ending contempt proceedings, had the same purpose as a separate investigation involving a private detective probing 2012 statements allegedly made by Snow’s wife, Cheri, to the effect that Snow wanted Arpaio out of office.
That’s not to say that Montgomery had anything to do with the investigation of Cheri Snow, which was done, according to Arpaio and Sheridan, by a shamus hired through their former attorney Tim Casey, an allegation Casey kinda-sorta denies.
However, both inquiries shared the same apparent intent on the parts of Sheridan and Arpaio: compromise Judge Snow, who in 2013 found Arpaio and the MCSO guilty of widespread racial profiling of Hispanics in the ACLU’s big civil rights case, Melendres v. Arpaio.
Later that year, Snow ordered that the MCSO institute a number of reforms, and in early 2014, he appointed a monitor to oversee compliance.
The Sheriff’s Office’s upper echelon already had defied Snow, primarily by ignoring a December 2011 preliminary injunction from the judge that enjoined the MCSO from enforcing federal civil immigration law.
Arpaio appealed that 2011 order to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and lost.
Not that Arpaio ever intended to obey.
Earlier this year, in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid this trial for civil contempt, which ran from April 21 to 24 and will continue for at least two more weeks in mid-June, Arpaio and Sheridan admitted their guilt, asking Snow to impose a $100,000 personal fine, allow the pair to apologize profusely, and let the county pick up the tab for compensating those held unlawfully by the MCSO as a result.
Sheridan and Arpaio no doubt knew that these hearings would implicate them in willful criminal contempt of the federal court while opening a Pandora’s Box of revelations concerning the Montgomery affair and the investigation of Snow’s wife.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in Arpaio’s book: to conflict a rival agency or a meddlesome jurist, open an investigation on ’em.
If this means ginning up bogus allegations, so be it.
In 2007, Arpaio and his wing-nutty Boy Wonder, disbarred former County Attorney Andy Thomas, got wind that former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard might be looking into allegations against the sheriff.
So Arpaio opened an investigation on Goddard, thereby conflicting Goddard on any such matters.
In 2009, when Gary Donahoe, the presiding criminal judge of the local Superior Court, was making adverse rulings against the Arpaio-Thomas axis, the dastardly duo brought spurious criminal charges against Donahoe, forcing Donahoe to cancel a pending hearing regarding their offices.
That was the same year as Arpaio and Thomas’ risible RICO suit against numerous county officials, including a number of Superior Court judges who got crosswise with the sheriff and county attorney.
The RICO suit resulted in a special master appointed by the court to sort through the various conflicts of interest.
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
Along comes Klayman, who represents Montgomery in a defamation suit against New York Times reporter James Risen.
Risen’s book Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War repeats many allegations made elsewhere about Montgomery and his work for the Nevada firm eTreppid, which reportedly scored millions in contracts from U.S. military and intelligence agencies, based on claims that Montgomery had developed software capable of flushing out coded Al Qaeda messages in Al Jazeera broadcasts.
According to Risen, this was “one of the most elaborate and dangerous hoaxes in American history,” which “nearly convinced the [George W. Bush] administration to order fighter jets to start shooting down commercial airlines filled with passengers over the Atlantic.”
Klayman’s suit insists that Montgomery’s work for the CIA and others was legitimate and that Risen’s allegations are defamatory. So Klayman’s asking for about $500 million in compensatory and punitive damages on Montgomery’s behalf.
One vulture-size tsetse fly in Klayman’s legal ointment is the recent testimony of his other client, Arpaio, whom Klayman represents in a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
During the April contempt hearings, both Arpaio and his top flunky, Sheridan, confirmed my reporting from June 2014 that said Montgomery was used as a confidential informant by the MCSO to investigate a flaky conspiracy theory involving Snow, the DOJ, and others.
My sources tell me that Montgomery’s involvement was an offshoot of Arpaio’s equally ridiculous investigation into President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, led by Cold Case Posse commander Mike Zullo.
According to these sources, Zullo introduced the MCSO and Montgomery, though when I called Zullo recently, he declined to comment on this allegation.
In a convenient confluence of kookery, both Arpaio and Zullo in 2012 submitted affidavits supporting a lawsuit by Klayman, challenging Obama’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in Florida for the presidential election.
You know, supposedly because Obama is not a “natural born citizen.”
Now it’s all full circle, with Klayman seeking to intervene on Montgomery’s behalf in a recent filing in Melendres . Klayman’s motion to intervene calls on Snow to recuse himself because the jurist allegedly has an “incurable personal interest” in the case, due to the investigation regarding Snow’s wife.
Klayman also demands that Montgomery’s “documents, records, work product, and intellectual property,” which Snow has ordered the MCSO to cough up, be returned to the supposed computer whiz, now living in Florida and in ailing health, according to Klayman.
Interestingly, Klayman asserts in his motion that this material, in part, includes information “concerning Dennis Montgomery’s attorney and a federal judge in the District of Columbia.”
This line evidently alludes to a statement made by Sheridan during his recent testimony in Snow’s courtroom.
See, not only did the MCSO take Montgomery to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for a “free talk” (a discussion with a prosecutor with limitations on how the information gleaned can be used in court), the Sheriff’s Office, according to Sheridan, took Montgomery’s claims to a federal judge who sits on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (sometimes called the “FISA Court,” in reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978), which has the power to issue warrants for electronic surveillance.
“We had a seated justice . . . a member of the FISA court in Washington, D.C.,” Sheridan told Snow. “We had Mr Mont — [sic] because the sheriff and I were concerned about the CIA wiretapping our phones. This justice actually confirmed that these were typical wiretap numbers and so it did give Mr. Montgomery a little credibility with us.”
Nevertheless, at some point Sheridan said the MCSO “finally realized [Montgomery] was stringing us along.”
But not before, according to my sources, the the Sheriff’s Office spent from $500,000 to $1 million on the investigation, purchasing computer equipment for Montgomery, paying him as much as $10,000 a month in confidential-informant funds, and doling out money to pay for airfare, hotel costs, and travel expenses for Zullo, MCSO Deputy Brian Mackiewicz, and Sergeant Travis Anglin, to fly back and forth from Seattle to baby-sit Montgomery, in case he actually found something Arpaio could use against Snow.
The investigation began in October 2013 and continued until at least the end of 2014. I’m told that CI payments were approved for Montgomery even after the computer consultant underwent aneurysm surgery and suffered a series of strokes.
At some point, Montgomery was flown to D.C., where he met with Zullo and Mackiewicz, my sources say. And this supposedly resulted in a get-together with the as-yet unnamed FISA Court judge.
Not surprisingly, Snow has not recused himself as Klayman wishes, though the judge has ordered that no material involving the Montgomery investigation be released without the approval of the court.
Additionally, Snow has instructed Arpaio’s civil attorney, Michele Iafrate, to review the documents for any issues of attorney-client privilege and to correspond with the CIA and see if the agency wishes to assert privilege over any of the two terabytes of data dump Montgomery forked over to the MCSO.
In fact, Snow recently stated in court that Montgomery “claims to have procured [the data dump] without authorization from the CIA.”
About 72 hours after his motion to intervene, Klayman went a step further, seeking from the Ninth Circuit a writ of mandamus, which would compel Snow to recuse himself from the case.
The attorneys I’ve consulted seem to agree that Montgomery does not have standing either to intervene in the case or to seek Snow’s recusal.
And the Ninth Circuit concurs. As this column went to press, Klayman’s mandamus request summarily was denied by the high court.
Klayman’s filings seem as much a PR stunt as anything, meant to muddy the water and cause a conflict for Snow in the minds of some members of the public, if not in reality.
To this end, before Klayman’s initial attempt to intervene appeared on the federal court’s docket, it was published via press release and reported on by such sites as www.birtherreport.com.
On a personal note, I have to thank Klayman for all of the kind words he has for me in his latest filing with the Ninth Circuit.
In one passage, he accuses Snow of believing “hearsay by reporter Stephen Lemons at an unreliable, disreputable, partisan blog known as The Phoenix New Times.”
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Klayman continues: “Lemons, whose blog hates Sheriff Arpaio and has done everything possible to have his reputation tarnished and removed from office, is pulling the strings and writing the script.”
Thing is, Counselor, the “script” has been vindicated as accurate by Sheridan, your client Arpaio, and in part by your other client, Montgomery.
As for hating Sheriff Joe, are you kiddin’? With all the grist I get from him weekly, I owe him like I owe the rent.