SCA Contributions Technically Not "Payroll Deductions," County Says

We're not saying Captain Joel Fox is wrong about everything.

Turns out he's right on the issue of whether the SCA contributions were, in fact, "payroll deductions."

Although the reports filed by Fox say "payroll deductions," Fox says in comments to this blog that they were actually nothing more than direct deposits.

We heard from Maricopa County spokesman Richard De Uriarte this morning, who tells us that's true. His explanation also covers union dues, an issue brought up yesterday by the man who ran against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2004 and 2008, Dan Saban.

De Uriarte writes:

The county does not monitor where employees direct their pay, to which banks, to which accounts. This is the same method used by the AFSCME union for union dues because the county stopped making payroll deductions for union activities.

1) Any guidelines for payroll deduction? Yes. The county takes only benefit-related deductions and Board of Supervisors-approved deductions, deferred compensation and charitable contributions.

2) What is the process? Any employee can request Combined Charitable Contributions (United Way) via the annual campaign or they can contact payroll directly. Via direct deposit, employees can deposit money to any account that receives ACH deposits and that the financial institution allows.

Some financial institutions do not allow people to deposit to accounts that do not include the employee's name, but this is only a few small credit unions. The county has never had a bank reject a direct deposit because the employee's name was not on the account. Employees have free access to set up direct deposits on their own. The only rejections we get are bad routing or account numbers that the employee might have mis-keyed.

De Uriarte makes it clear that the SCA members who worked for Arpaio, ie. Hendershott and the top deputies, could have set up the account deposits without involvement from the sheriff's payroll department.

But of course, the sheriff's top people knew about the Sheriff's Command Association deductions -- since they were the ones making the deductions.

Call them payroll deductions or direct deposits to a secretive account. Either way, it looks weird.

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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.