Maricopa County Craziness

Joe Arpaio Hosting Fundraiser for Bill Montgomery -- Guess He's Cool with "Nursing Home" Slurs

Here's a phrase designed to strike fear into the hearts of rational Arizonans of every political stripe: "Meet your law enforcement team." As in, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a new bestie!

We've repeatedly argued that the biggest problem with Andrew Thomas' tenure as county attorney was that he saw himself as an extension of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This wasn't the people being represented by "two separate but equally important groups," as promised on Law & Order. This was a system without checks and balances -- one where Thomas pretty much agreed to prosecute whoever the hell Arpaio felt should be prosecuted.

Now Bill Montgomery appears to promising more the same. And -- secret tape or no secret tape -- Arpaio plans to be at his side.

Last week, as New Times' Ray Stern first reported, county officials revealed the existence of a tape where Montgomery, a former deputy county attorney who's now running for the job, talks smack about both Arpaio and Thomas. (Indeed, on the tape, Montgomery sounds pretty damn reasonable: He thinks Thomas "viciously attacked" the Hispanic community and says that talking to Arpaio is akin to visiting a nursing home.)


as the attached flyer makes clear, those feelings aren't stopping Arpaio from supporting Montgomery's campaign -- not one bit.

"Come and meet your law enforcement team," the flyer says. "Learn how Bill Montgomery and Sheriff Joe Arpaio Will Work Together to Enforce SB 1070 and Safeguard Maricopa County Citizens."

Work together? SB 1070? Is this like a bad case of deja vu or what?

And really, how can Arpaio pledge to work with a man who thinks he's a doddering fool?

But after mulling it cover, we're really not too surprised. While we imagine it must have been a tad awkward when Arpaio's staff realized that Montgomery is a two-faced political opportunist, we can't imagine they did too much soul-searching over whether to drop their support.

For one thing, Arpaio's top brass need Montgomery a hell of a lot more than he needs them. They hate Rick Romley (and vice versa), so it's not like they can threaten to take their endorsement elsewhere. Montgomery has a great resume -- combat veteran, longtime prosecutor, etcetera -- and he's willing to be part of their "team"? Federal investigation and all, there's not many respectable people willing to go there these days. Secretly, they probably know they're lucky just to have an alternative to Romley.

For another, Arpaio really is acting so senile these days, his staff probably nodded knowingly and decided they could conceal the extent of the disparagement from him. (Hey! Why not blame it on New Times?)

Let's face it: Most of them probably agree with Montgomery. The poor dears aren't just visiting the nursing home -- they actually work there. And since their best chance of continued employment rests on not just the old codger staying happy, but on a county attorney willing to let their hijinks go unchecked, they had no choice but to let the show go on.

Tape? What tape? We're going to Stoudemire's!
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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske