Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his campaign guru Chad Willems have done their best to suggest Arpaio has $6 million in the bank, ready to go for the sheriff's 2012 re-election campaign.
In September, Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini reported that, "Arpaio says that he has collected $6 million for his own re-election campaign."
And in a January 5th press release published on the right-wing Sonoran Alliance blog, Willems -- who ran ex-state Senator Russell Pearce's disastrous 2011 recall campaign -- relayed a similar message.
"Through December 31st of last year, the campaign has raised a record $6 million for a sixth four-year term as Sheriff of Arizona's most populous county," Willems gloated.
But the campaign finance report Arpaio filed on January 18 -- his first since late 2010 -- tells a different story.
As of December 31, Arpaio had cash-on-hand of around $3.4 million. That's only about $600,000 more than the $2.8 million cash-on-hand Arpaio had as of the end of 2010.
During the time period the current report covers -- from November 23, 2010 to December 31, 2011 -- Arpaio had "total receipts" of $1,156,550.
So where does the $6 million figure come from?
That apparently counts receipts going back all the way to 2008, including a $67,257.59 amount carried over from Arpaio's 2008 re-election campaign.
Technically, it may not be a lie for Willems to say Arpaio's raised almost $6 million "through December 31," but at the very least, it is political propaganda.
One purpose of letting people believe that you have millions more in the bank than you actually do is to scare off prospective opponents.
Convey an aura of invincibility, and your enemies may never mobilize, much less attack.
In that sense, Willems and Arpaio have played their poker hand well, at least up till the point that we know what they're holdin'.
Certainly, $3.4 million is nothing to turn your nose up at, though $6 million would have been colossal, obviously.
For his massive bluffing, Willems has been well-compensated.
The latest filing shows Willems' Summit Consulting Group to have been paid more than $322,000 to date.
The new Arpaio campaign finance report also reveals something interesting about Arpaio's donors.
They have a lot in common, other than responding to plaintive e-mail pitches from a whiny Arpaio with their wallets.
Largely, they do not live in Arizona and no longer work for a living.
In eyeballing this 646 page Goliath, I quickly lost count of those who listed their occupations as "retired."
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Contributions rolled in from far-flung locales. From Hicksville, New York and Morris Plains, New Jersey, to Hilton Head, South Carolina and Metairie, Louisiana, to Poplar, Montana and Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, to East Wenatchee, Washington and Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Sure, there are givers from Arizona, too.
But Arpaio's war chest has been filled to the brim by out-of-state nudniks who don't have to live with our sheriff's excesses and derelictions of duty. Much less pay for them.
And that seems so unfair.