Joe Arpaio to Pay $76,000 Over Illegal Mailers Attacking Rick Romley

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio won't admit any wrongdoing in his campaign mailer attacks on former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley during last year's special election for county attorney, but he will pay $76,000 to make the problem go away.

The $76,000 is a nice chunk of change -- even for a guy who as of last year had about $1.8 million in his campaign coffers -- but it's less than half of the $154,000 Arpaio originally was fined for the illegal ads.

Say what you will about Romley, but Arpaio's attacks were sleazy politics -- even for America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff."

In case you forgot, during the campaign, Arpaio distributed mailers claiming Romley -- his arch-nemesis who at the time was running in a special election against Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery after Arpaio toady Andrew Thomas resigned from that post to run for attorney general -- wanted Governor Jan Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1070 (gasp!), a big no-no for a Republican in Arizona. 

Arpaio took a similar sleaze-ball approach in bashing Attorney General Tom Horne during last year's GOP primary. In that case, Arpaio coughed up the cash for campaign ads bashing Horne, claiming he was -- amongst other things -- pro-statutory rape. Horne at the the time was running for the GOP nomination for attorney general against Thomas.

See one of the ads here.

Arpaio, meanwhile, wasn't running for anything, but ponied up the cash to help out his partners in crime, which violated election law.

The mailers against Romley were ruled to be "in-kind contributions" to a political campaign. However, the ads against Horne were permitted when a judge rejected Horne's request to have an injunction against them last summer.

The good news: this time, the money to pay for Arpaio's ethical blunders will come out of the sheriff's re-election fund, not the county checking account.

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James King
Contact: James King