Politics

Paradise Republican Women's Club Fibs About Andrew Thomas, Says Feds "Exonerated" Him; Disgraced Ex-Prosecutor to Speak at Club

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas may be a political loser, but he's still popular with the women -- of the Paradise Republican Women's Club, anyway.

The venerable Valley club has scheduled Thomas, a failed politician whose abuse of power led this year to disbarment and disgrace, to appear as guest speaker at its annual meeting this coming Saturday.

And get this: The club, in a bio of Thomas linked in its home page, says that a federal grand jury and prosecutors "exonerated" Thomas of wrongdoing.

That, of course, is a total crock.

See also: Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "Unholy Collaboration" Abused Justice

An August 31 letter by former acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel to the new county attorney, Bill Montgomery, made it clear that Thomas was not necessarily exonerated of the allegations. Rather, Scheel indicated that the burden of proof for criminal prosecutions was higher than for the state disciplinary panel that disbarred Thomas.

For example, Thomas was alleged to have committed perjury along with his former sidekick Lisa Aubuchon when they cooked up a bogus criminal complaint against now-retired Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe. Thomas and Aubuchon were accused not of misstating facts, which could have made a slam-dunk perjury case, but of misstating the "legal significance" of the facts, Scheel wrote. The subjective nature of the perjury charge meant it would be tough to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, she explained.

Unprosecutable? So Scheel said. But exoneration? No way.

The Paradise Women are looking for love in all the wrong places.

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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.