Reason, the influential libertarian magazine devoted to "free minds and free markets," has published a piece criticizing Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas as "Sheriff Joe's Enabler."
The piece was published online yesterday.
In it, senior editor Radley Balko explains that "[f]or all of Arpaio's tough on crime preening, Thomas may actually be more dangerous."
"He brings all of Arpaio's nuttery," he writes, "with none of Arpaio's scowl."
Balko cites a series of cases where Thomas has proven himself no friend of liberty: the prosecution of county supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox, his pursuit of teenager Matt Bandy, who was accused of bringing a Playboy to school, and his appointment of the special prosecutor who tried to subpoena detailed information about all of New Times readers.
Now, those cases are old news to New Times readers. But Balko put in them in context for an audience that surely isn't quite as familiar.
As Balko writes,
As a pundit and book author, [Thomas] had advocated a number of bizarre crime-fighting strategies, including instituting a law enforcement "draft," whereby all young men not already in the military would be armed with walkie-talkies and conscripted to patrol neighborhoods. In a 1997 piece for The Weekly Standard, Thomas located the "root of our crime problem" on "rights-happy radical individualism," and blamed everything from rudeness to gang activity on "the moral laissez faire disorder of libertarianism."
To any Ayn Rand-reading, Barry Goldwater-loving Arizona libertarian -- and despite all evidence around us, we continue to believe these people exist! -- those are surely fighting words.
Finally, after laying out a devastating case against Thomas' abuses of power, Balko notes that insiders believe he has a very real chance at becoming the state's next attorney general.
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He then quotes one of our favorite libertarians, Clint Bolick, director of constitutional studies at the Goldwater Institute.
"In the eyes of a lot of people, because they're cracking down on illegal immigrants, Thomas and Arpaio can do no wrong," Bolick told Radley, according to the article. "So there's justification for whatever they do, and any criticism of them on any issue is a betrayal of the cause. It's really unfortunate that it's causing a lot of good people to turn a blind eye to ineffective law enforcement and abuses of power."
Balko's piece is a devastating read for anyone who has libertarian leanings and still considers himself a fan of Andrew Thomas.
We recommend that you forward this link to anyone in your circle who can't understand why you find our county attorney so objectionable. It is, to say the least, an eye opener.