Joe Arpaio Scores $3.2 Million in Cash on Hand from Out-of-State Retirees

Shamelessness will get you far in life.

Just ask Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his campaign money man, Chad Willems, who also is pimping a statewide pot-legalization initiative in this cycle. 

On Wednesday, Arpaio filed his first campaign finance report of the year with Maricopa County Elections, showing him in possession of a $3.2 million war chest, most of it donated by out-of-state retirees. 

Willems' Summit Group issued a press release trumpeting all the moolah Arpaio pulled in, which came to "nearly $8 million since the beginning of 2013."

That means Willems spent about $4.7 million to end up with $3.2 million in cash on hand.

Naturally, Willems' own purse was fattened in the process. Arpaio's campaign finance report shows that Summit was paid about $680,000 in 2015. During the same period, Willems raised about $2.5 million for the campaign. 

Thus, Willems scored about a third of the take.

Willems may figure he deserves it, but this is hardly rocket science. Basically, the Republican operative sends out regular mass e-mail pitches begging for money on Arpaio's behalf, and the dough rolls in, mostly from people who do not have to live in Arpaio-land.

The Scottsdale GOPer has no problem being disingenuous in those pitches, which are signed by Joe. Last year, such e-mail fundraising appeals went out containing the bogus information that Arpaio's enemies were trying to recall him.
That's a big fat whopper, of course. But as W.C. Fields once said, never give a sucker an even break. And Willems is all about fleecing the sheep. 

In an interview with Channel 3, he admitted there was no recall but insisted that the e-mailed appeal was not misleading. 

All with a straight face, mind you.

Currently, other than a quixotic effort in the GOP primary by Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Republican Dan Saban, Arpaio faces no significant challenge to an unprecedented seventh term in office, if he's re-elected.

This, though federal Judge G. Murray Snow is expected to lower the boom soon in Arpaio's civil contempt trial. It's anticipated that the case will be referred for criminal prosecution.

U.S. Marshal David Gonzales, whom many think is the best shot to beat Arpaio this year, remains mum on a possible candidacy, though a movement to draft Gonzales began last year.

In addition to Arpaio and Saban, five other individuals have taken out the paperwork to run for sheriff in 2016, none of them familiar names.

After Willems filed this latest campaign finance report, I tweeted that he should consider using his mailing list to sell reverse mortgages. Same target audience, you see.

Indeed, Joe could fill in for the late Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator whose reverse mortgage commercials still run late at night on cable, despite Thompson's being past tense.

Because once Arpaio's case is referred for criminal prosecution, his career will be past tense, no matter how much cash he has on hand.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons