What do you do when you're Sheriff Joe Arpaio and your name is practically a byword for the neglect of sex crime cases involving women and children?
You use your political fundraising machine to shill for a national nonprofit that benefits abused kids, sort of like a petroleum company donating to local charities after a big oil spill, or a sheriff known for chain gangs and wrongful deaths in his jails, hugging up to an ex-inmate in a campaign ad.
Which explains this latest gag-inducing fundraising e-mail from the Arpaio campaign, apparently sent en masse to the same extensive e-mail list that's enabled Joe to raise millions from alter kocker wingnuts in all 50 states.
See also: -"Tough" Sheriff Joe Arpaio Let a Murderer Go to Kill Again -Joe Arpaio's Shame: KPHO Interviews Rape Victim Sabrina Morrison -Joe Arpaio's Deputy Told to Work Fraud Cases Instead of Child Rape Crime -Joe Arpaio's Sex Crimes Debacle Eviscerated in New Video by Devin Fleenor -Joe Arpaio's Replacement, Paul Penzone, Blasts Sheriff's Handling of Sex Crimes in New Ad -Victims Wonder Why Arpaio Let Sex-Abuse Cases Languish -Ex-Police Chief's Book Details Arpaio's Negligence in El Mirage Cases
The e-mail solicits donations on behalf of Childhelp, a nonprofit corporation that, ironically, is committed to assisting children like those Arpaio's agency failed in El Mirage and elsewhere.
A tidy piece of propaganda this is, and an insult to the unfortunate children who were victimized repeatedly because the MCSO had different priorities, like, sending deputies to Honduras or ginning up charges on Arpaio's political enemies, for instance.
No doubt Arpaio and his bag-carrier Chad Willems of Summit Consulting had themselves a good ol' grin about this sleazy campaign sleight of hand.
That's because Arpaio's Democratic challenger Paul Penzone was, not too long ago, a Vice President of the organization's special projects and prevention programs.
But it takes two to tango, and Childhelp is no victim, but a willing participant in Arpaio's exploitation of its good name for campaign purposes.
"Sheriff Joe Supports Childhelp!" exclaims Childhelp's website, next to a photo of a grinning Joe.
"For the last 15 years, Sheriff Joe has been involved with Childhelp," it reads. "He is asking every Arizonian to join with him in support of the Childhelp Children's Center of Arizona (CCCA)."
The wording on the fundraising e-mail that Arpaio sends out, is similar:
"For the last 15 years, I've been involved with a non-profit organization based here in Phoenix called Childhelp. The group is nationally renowned for helping children that have been victims of abuse."
Arpaio prominently mentions that he's "locked in a tough campaign for re-election," and thanks readers for "your support for my campaigns through the years."
Then he hits the recipients up, several times, for a donation to Childhelp, with links to a Childhelp page featuring a prominent photo of Joe.
Essentially, Childhelp is helping Arpaio whitewash the MCSO's scandal over hundreds neglected sex crimes, and other crimes, including murder. In return, Arpaio is scaring up donations for the org from his supporters.
Oddly, another item on the site's webpage reports on the Jerry Sandusky sentencing, wishing the survivors "a time of great hope and healing."
Too bad Childhelp isn't more concerned with a similar scandal here in Maricopa County.
I'll grant you that Childhelp needs the money. According to its 2010-2011 filing with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the organization is millions in the red.
Daphne Young, a spokeswoman for Childhelp, replied to an initial inquiry from me, stating that, "This is a critical time for the kids in our care and we need all the support for our mission possible during this crushing recession."
Young promised me a more extensive statement later in the day. I will update this blog if and when I receive it.
I can appreciate Childhelp's dire financial straits. But by entering into this diabolical partnership, not only is Childhelp selling its soul, it may be violating federal requirements regarding its 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
Some nonprofits can engage in political work, but not 501(c)3's. The IRS's Publication 557, a guide for nonprofit organizations, emphatically states the following:
"If any of the activities (whether or not substantial) of your organization consist of participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, your organization will not qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). Such participation or intervention includes the publishing or distributing of statements."
Indeed, at the height of the campaign season, Childhelp is both "publishing" and "distributing" an online statement of support for Sheriff Joe.
Likely, Childhelp is banking on Penzone's camp not to make a stink over the issue. A spokeswoman for the Penzone campaign declined comment over the matter.
The general public, however, should be thoroughly disgusted. By assisting Arpaio in his time of need, they're defending the Phoenix version of a different Joe: Penn State's Joe Paterno.
UPDATE 10/17/12: Hadn't checked this post all day, then someone alerted me to Tommy's message below.
Indeed, it takes a village, and it seems Childhelp has done the right thing and scrubbed its site of references to the pro-Joe Arpaio fundraising drive, as far as I can tell.
Also, the links on Arpaio's e-mail fundraising message no longer work.
Ms Young contacted me today telling me that a Childhelp official would be calling me for further comment. So far, no call.
I'll contact them in the morning and see what's up.
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