Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Shill Chad Willems' Bogus Pro-Joe "Petition" (w/Update)

Shenanigans. Republicans wouldn't be Republicans without them. And the effort under way to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the perfect occasion for pro-Joe Rs to roll out their usual dirty tricks and monkeyshines.

See also: -Joe Arpaio's Chad Willems Talks to the Shadow Army about the "Blocking Campaign" and the End of GOP Rule in Maricopa County -Joe Arpaio Recall: A Chance to Prove the Pundits Wrong

Take this weird petition against the recall that's being circulated by Arpaio's people. I ran into it outside the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, held at Margaret T. Hance Park over the weekend.

On Sunday, there was a fellow at a card table near the entrance to the festival soliciting signatures both for an anti-recall petition and one in favor of medical marijuana, which seemed a tad odd, as Arpaio is on record as being opposed to medical Mary Jane.

On the other hand, now that most of the political operatives pimping Joe also are pimpin' prescription weed, perhaps it's not that incongruous after all.

Anyway, the circulator guy told me, "This [anti-recall petition] is going to go on the ballot, too, so people get a choice on both of them."

Which, of course, is total bull.

There's a process for triggering a recall election, as outlined by the Arizona Constitution and state statute. There's no process for a counter-recall. The recall either scores the signatures necessary or it doesn't.

No matter how many signatures are placed on this pseudo-petition, its language will not appear on the ballot.

So what's the point? Well, to confuse people, for one. And secondly, to gain the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of folks who may be dumb enough to hand over some of their cash to Arpaio's campaign consultant, Chad Willems.

I e-mailed Willems and asked him what gives.

"There is so much misinformation from the other side that we are merely collecting signatures of the sheriff's supporters," he wrote back. "This is a public education campaign since the other side is telling voters on the street that signing the recall petition is actually supporting the sheriff."

And what about the circulator's statement that the language of the opposition petition would be on the ballot?

"We are not telling voters this will be on the ballot," Willems replied. "If a circulator said that he is mistaken."

It's not the only thing that's "mistaken" about this petition. The statement up top maintains that policies like "Tent City, chain gangs, and a volunteer posse" have saved taxpayers "over $40 million in the last ten years alone."

Not sure where Willems dug up that number, but in reality, Joe's slipshod operation has come with a price tag of more than $50 million in settlements, awards, and defense fees, according to an ABC 15 report using figures from Maricopa County's Risk Management.

Then there's the line about how Arpaio "deserves our support" because he's operated his department under budget in "19 of the last 20 years, each time returning money to the county."

That's a real gut-buster. In 2011, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors found that the MCSO had swiped more than $100 million from public funds set aside for jail enhancement and improving conditions, using the money instead to finance Arpaio's pet projects.

At the time, it was reported that the MCSO used several secret "shadow systems" over a period of eight years to hide the siphoning of the affected accounts, which are protected by statute.

A minor oversight on Willems' part, I'm sure. After all, Arpaio has nothing to hide. He stands on his record, right?

And that record just happens to be the best argument in favor of the recall.

UPDATE 4:25 P.M.: Maricopa County Elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed, responding to an earlier inquiry, called to tell me that no one had filed paperwork with the county regarding Willems' anti-recall, pro-Joe petition. .

And there's no reason anyone would, because, "there's no such thing," as a petition opposing a recall, at least not officially. The wording of the Willems petition will not appear on a ballot, no matter how many signatures are gathered for it.

Reed stated that there is "nothing illegal" about gathering signatures supporting a candidate, but that it would have zero effect upon the outcome of the recall effort and the recall election, should the county have one.

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