| Arpaio |

Joel Fox Met with Chris Baker to Discuss SCA Donation -- GOP Consultant Now Linked to Scandal

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It's one mystery solved, a few more to go.

Thanks to documents unsealed today in Pinal County Superior Court at New Times' behest, we now know the liaison between the Arizona Republican Party and Sheriff's Captain Joel Fox.

It's a Republican campaign consultant, Chris Baker.

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen has testified under oath that he never met Joel Fox prior to a hearing to discuss Fox's ill-fated $105,000 donation to the party earlier this year. And that left political observers wondering: Just how did Fox establish contact with the GOP and get it his first $80,000 check?

Baker, we now know, hand delivered it.

Why that's important: Just a few months later, Baker did work for Arizonans for Public Safety, the start-up political committee that the GOP created to pay for the slimy ads attacking the opponents of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. (The work doesn't appear directly related to the attack ads, which were handled by a firm in Austin, Texas. Baker's contribution was a flyer praising Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock.)

Captain Fox has long insisted that the SCA money did not necessarily pay for the pro-Arpaio ad. But the fact that Fox's contact, Baker, ended up working for the committee that financed the ads is just one more fact that makes Fox's protestations increasingly implausible.

Even better? Fox didn't go the meeting alone. Baker told investigators that they were also joined by Larry Black, then-director of the sheriff's office.

"The SCA wanted to be more politically active," Baker reported the sheriff's officers saying, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed by the AG's Office in March. "The SCA wanted to contribute to the Arizona Republican Party. Joel Fox believed other police organizations were too closely aligned with the Democratic Party."

It's also worth noting that Baker, whose firm worked for Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and State Representative Pamela Gorman, among candidates, has another (minor) link to this scandal.

The ads attacking Arpaio's opponent, Dan Saban, were so slimy that they drew a heated response from some Republican activists. When the party's executive director, Sean McCaffrey, "resigned" soon after the 2008 elections, at least some people suspected the ads may have been a factor.

But McCaffrey landed on his feet; he immediately landed a new job working as a political consultant.

His new boss? Chris Baker.

Baker's a chatty guy who's taken our calls in the past, and the record shows that he consented to an interview with the Attorney General's investigators back in March. We'll let you know if he has anything to say in our print edition this Wednesday.

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