Joel Fox to County: Forget Criminal Investigation on SCA -- Pay Me $75,000!


Captain Joel Fox of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office filed a $75,000 claim against the county last week for the "emotional distress" of being forced to divulge the names of secret donors to a political committee.

Naturally, Fox isn't suing the Sheriff's Office -- just the Board of Supervisors, Elections Department and Recorder's Office. Fox is representing himself, and his October 23 claim letter -- usually the first step to a lawsuit -- begins with a 1943 court-case quote about "liberty."

You've gotta admit -- the captain has chutzpah. After spending nine months dodging the public and elections officials who wanted to know the origins of a mysterious, $105,000 contribution to the Republican Party, Fox crumbled under threat of a $315,000 fine and spilled his guts. That's when the public found out that the contribution, which appears to have paid for foul attack ads against the opponents of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas in the 2008 election, had been funded by top commanders under Arpaio whose jobs were in danger if the sheriff lost. Most of the money, though, had come from local developer Steve Ellman and other fat cats whose precise involvement is still being kept hidden by Fox.

The illicit political committee, which called itself the Sheriff's Command Association (SCA), or Command Officers Association, is the subject of a criminal investigation by state Attorney General Terry Goddard. (Several of Fox's computers were seized in a raid of his home). County officials sent a notice to Thomas' office that Fox and others in the SCA case may have broken laws, but Thomas -- suspiciously -- has done nothing but claim the matter is "under review."

Yet Fox wants the county to hand him $75,000 because he didn't get a proper hearing. He did get a hearing, mind you, but he says the county screwed up the correct procedure for the hearing. Because of that, the veteran deputy says he suffered a lot of "emotional distress."

In a true bit of comedy, Fox states that county could have received compliance (ie., forced him to turn over the names), months sooner if only they had followed procedure.

Fox says his claim could turn into a class-action lawsuit, because he believes the county routinely fails to offer properly timed hearings. He threatens that election officials could face criminal charges for violating the Constitutional rights of folks like him.

Click here for the full claim letter.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.