Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Tech-Guy Bob Rampy's Crybaby, 750K Claim Against the County

What is it about certain former and current Maricopa County law enforcement officials that makes them think they're a privileged class, entitled to make bank from county coffers whenever their feelings get hurt?

We all know about the bloodsucking ways of ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, his erstwhile henchwoman Lisa Aubuchon, and MCSO Chief Deputy-on-leave David Hendershott. These days, it seems like this cabal is filing claims for tens-of-millions of dollars on a weekly basis, asserting they've been wronged, when in fact they're the ones who've been doing the wronging.

But let's take the case of a slightly smaller fish -- at least when compared to such leviathans as Hendershott: MCSO Commander Bob Rampy, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's top IT guy.

According to the county, Rampy's hourly rate is $67.30, making his yearly salary $139,984. I'm sure he earns every penny. Still, that's a lot of dough to those of us not in the public sector.

Now Rampy wants $750,000 to make his crybaby claims against the county go away. His kvetches? In part, that the county responded to public records requests from the media related to Rampy's activities.

Rampy has filed a harassment claim, in addition to his notice of claim for three quarters of a million dollars. He's teed off that both the Arizona Republic and yours truly wrote about an incident last year where county lawyers accused him of spying on them.

(You can read Rampy's complaints at length, here.)

Yvonne Wingett at the Rep wrote about the accusations on September 13, and I followed up the next day with a blog post linking to the public documents involved. These included a letter from attorneys Julie Pace and David Selden to the sheriff's legal beagles at the firm Ogletree Deakins.

In the letter, Pace and Selden, who were representing the county, asked if Rampy had been spying on Pace and another lawyer outside a county building where they'd been doing business. Rampy had been spotted eyeballing county employees as he sat in an unmarked SUV that had "radio and satellite equipment" on the roof.

Ogletree Deakins, which has since been fired by the Board of Supervisors, replied in a terse, combative missive, telling Selden and Pace that, "The answer to all your questions is no."

The firm further claimed that, "Your letter was designed for no other purpose than to harass, intimidate and defame a material witness."

I linked to that letter in my post, and I pointed out that if the Pace-Selden allegations were true, they'd raise nary an eyebrow, considering the MCSO's dubious history in honoring the civil rights of others. I also recounted an infamous incident regarding Rampy from March of 2010, where he attempted to take possession of some contested MCSO e-mails in the county's possession.

During this donnybrook, Maricopa County spokeswoman Cari Gerchick confronted Rampy with a news crew from KPHO in tow.

My former colleague Sarah Fenske wrote about the showdown, and KPHO captured video of it. The result was that Rampy beat a retreat, tail tucked between haunches.

Ironically, those e-mails, which were sought after by the plaintiffs in the federal racial-profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio, had already been sent to a third party out of state. Nevertheless, the confrontation was illustrative of the MCSO's heavy-handed, police state tactics.

Historically, the MCSO has had a chip on its shoulder regarding public records embarrassing to the department. Rampy, apparently, is no exception.

The basis of Rampy's $750K claim is that I and the Rep wrote about him because we got hold of the letters involved. 

I don't know about the Rep, but I asked for the Rampy-related documents through a public records request to Gerchick. As she's required to do under state law, she complied with my request in a timely manner.

As is also part of her job, she gave me a quote for my piece. But according to an October memo from Rampy alleging harassment of him by county officials, it was all part of an effort to smear him.

Rampy writes,

"...the very next day [following the Wingett article], even after our attorneys provided a response, the Phoenix New Times published a very demeaning, disparaging and baseless article (this time with my name plastered throughout -- attached) with our attorney's response included in the article. The New Times could have only received this information from the County and most likely, Ms. Cari Gerchick Esq., who engaged in previous media attacks where sanctions were filed in court. The New Times release was done even after our counsel had provided an expedited response to the County counsel, so by all rights, Ms. Gerchick should have professionally stated "no comment," or simply provided our attorney's written response (with my name being redacted)."

Hate to break it to you, Bob, but you're a public employee, and you are highly paid for your services. You don't get to have your name "redacted" from public documents. That's what Gerchick gave me, public documents. If you don't like it, perhaps you should have remained in the private sector, instead of plunging head-first into the public trough.

The gall of this guy. His lawyer Kevin Harper's notice of claim letter isn't much better. In it, Harper goes into detail over all of the health problems Rampy's supposedly had as a result of being written about.

"In addition to the reputation damages suffered," writes Harper, "Commander Rampy has sustained emotional distress damages and adverse health effects from the stress of the accusations made against him. These adverse health effects, including anxiety, insomnia, and depression, have contributed to the difficulties faced by Commander Rampy following his recent diagnosis with advanced prostate cancer."

Sheesh. I'm surprised Harper didn't try to blame Rampy's prostate troubles on Gerchick as well.

In my opinion, Rampy doesn't deserve dime one, and Gerchick is the one being slimed here. As stated, she's required by statute to respond to public records requests. As far as giving quotes, what good is a spokeswoman who refuses to talk to the media? 

Indeed, using the twisted logic of Rampy and his counsel, perhaps Gerchick should now submit a notice of claim, alleging she's being "harassed" in turn and asking for a boat-load of money.

Gerchick, to her credit, is too classy for such a move. Rampy, on the other hand is a whole different sheaf of e-mails.

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