Captain Joel Fox Expected to Deliver SCA Donation Checks Today to County Elections

Captain Joel Fox had to 'fess up and spill the names of the cagey SCA donors behind a Republican Party smear campaign, but he still hasn't turned over the contribution checks.

Today's the big day, according to Jeffrey Messing, the lawyer hired by the Maricopa County Elections Department to hold fire to the feet of Fox and the SCA.

The settlement agreement allowed Fox a reasonable amount of time to get the checks, and that time has passed. Fox told Messing last weeks that he has the checks but hasn't given them up yet, Messing tells us today. Messing says that if Fox doesn't deliver the checks by this afternoon, he'll whack (our word, not his) the sheriff's deputy with a civil sanction. County officials are expected to post the checks online after they receive them.

Why is this important in a scandal that has already tarred local developer Steve Ellman and Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Chief Deputy, Dave Hendershott? Besides sheer, geeky, politically minded curiousity on our part, there's Arizona law to consider.

A statute in the elections section of state laws explains that "It is unlawful for a corporation or a limited liability company to make any contribution of money or anything of value for the purpose of influencing an election..." Last year's SCA donations to the Republican Party, in the eyes of public officials and anyone with a brain, were quite obviously intended to influence the 2008 election. So if any of the checks are from LLCs or corporations, to our non-lawyerly reading of the statute, the business entity would be guilty of a misdemeanor. And the person behind the illegal corporate donation would be guilty of felony. Now, we can only assume that the fat cats who sent in their checks -- like Ellman, Alaska businessman Tom Gimple, sandwich meister James "Jimmy John" Liautaud and the others -- knew how to cover their hineys. But they've been keeping their secret for a long time, and someone has to verify whether the law was broken.

As we mentioned before, it's not like Hendershott, the leader of the Maricopa Anti-Corruption Effort task force, was ever going to look into this.

UPDATE: The checks are in. Click here for the latest.

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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.