Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Rubs Shoulders with Minuteman Chris Simcox, and Alleged Trespasser Anna Gaines

Joe and the nativists, the love that never dies...

You judge a man, sometimes, by the company he keeps. So what does it say of Sheriff Joe that he recently spoke at the Arizona American Italian Club to a group of notorious nativists, including minuteman honcho Chris Simcox, and alleged criminal trespasser Anna Gaines, better known to Phoenicians as "the anti-Hispanic Hispanic"?

Gaines has a court date coming up this January 28 for an incident in July where she supposedly tried to solicit signatures for a recall of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon during a Sheriff Joe book signing at Borders Books on Camelback Road. When asked to leave, she allegedly refused, and was ultimately cuffed, while shouting that she was a pal of Arpaio's and they should let her go because of it. Needless to say, they didn't let her go. Oh, and the Mayoral recall Anna was leading? The drive was such a disaster that Gaines and her fellow nativists never submitted any signatures to the city clerk by deadline time.

But here is Arpaio, praising this grumpy Hobbit lady to the high heavens, and offering her special protection, telling her that the same threat detectives that protect him are at her beck and call.

"If anybody gives you any threats over this situation, call me," Joe tells her before the adoring crowd. "We'll take care of it."

During the rest of this chat with the nativists, Arpaio proudly boasts of working with convicted Watergate henchman G. Gordon Liddy, and with former Panama dictator General Manuel Noriega. Please note that Apaio's not talking of busting these two ne'er-do-wells, he's crowing about his professional ties to them.

Indeed, if you didn't know Arpaio was Maricopa County's top constable, you might think he was on the other side of the law, the way he talks about Barack Obama's pick for Attorney General, Eric Holder.

"There's a story in the headlines of the Republic last week," comments Joe, "that said the  Attorney General, the new one's going to go after the sheriff. He doesn't like racial profiling. And my response was, `I don't care.'"

Is it just me, or does that sound more like a capo than a cop talkin'? Specifically the way he thumbs his nose at law enforcement officials higher up on the food chain?

Later Joe takes a plaque of appreciation from Chris Simcox, a man whose inflammatory rhetoric and minuteman activities have been detailed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Also, members of Simcox's organization Minuteman Civil Defense Corps have left the group, charging that Simcox has not been upfront about his organization's finances. But hey, Arpaio'd take a plaque from anybody. The guy'd probably fly to Antarctica to pick one up from the penguin watchers if they offered him one.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons