MaryEllen Sheppard Billboard was Sheriff Arpaio's Idea; Had His Spokeswoman Pay

See also: MaryEllen Sheppard, Longtime Sheriff's Office Employee, Gets Billboard Farewell by Lisa Allen, Arpaio's Spokeswoman

See also: SCA Report Details Depth of Conspiracy Between Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and State GOP; Repubs Took Anti-Dan Saban Ad Material and Dirty Money From Arpaio's Buddies

The high-profile farewell announcement to a longtime sheriff's office employee on a downtown Phoenix billboard was Sheriff Joe Arpaio's idea, it turns out.

We just found that the sheriff tweeted on July 25 how he "wanted to say goodbye in a unique way to our 1st female Detention Chief with a billboard on 1st Ave and Jefferson."

But if the sheriff was the one who wanted it, why did Allen, his spokeswoman, say that she paid for the ad with her own personal check? Are we supposed to believe that Allen shelled out a couple grand (or whatever it cost -- she wouldn't divulge the amount) for that ad without being reimbursed?

Allen denies that she received a bonus or received any compensation for the ad.

And why didn't Arpaio pay for it out of his own pocket?

It could be that Lisa Allen simply feels like she owes the boss a big favor -- maybe for her astute observation in 2010 to Sheriff Paul Babeu's investigators that the people in Arpaio's office "look like scum" for running a slimy TV ad in 2008 against Dan Saban, the sheriff's Democratic challenger that year.

In any case, it's a good thing the sheriff double-checked the spelling of the ad's mock-up before it was put on the billboard. As the sheriff's tweet shows (below), both Sheppard's name (MaryEllen should be one word) and the word "sheriff" were misspelled in the original.

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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.