SCA Scandal: Captain Joel Fox Lied About Hendershott's Involvement; SCA Fails to Answer Key Questions

Captain Joel Fox hasn't been honest with us.

Here's what Fox posted to our blog in February about the $105,000 contribution to the Arizona Republican Party that came from the SCA:

None of the money came from Arpaio,or Hendershott or Arpaio's campaign, or anyone associated with Arpaio's campaign, nor did it come from any corporation or labor organization or any other illegal contributor. It was all private funds, solicited over a period of about 2 years.

As we now know, Hendershott was one of the main contributors to the Sheriff's Command Association.

Fox's lie is probably just the tip of a very large berg of bullcrap. For instance, Fox also claims in the comment sections of this blog that the SCA money didn't finance the smear ads against the political opponents of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

The contribution, at the least, appears to have acted as a loan for the Arizona Republican Party. As the county's appointed lawyer, Jeffrey Messing, has pointed out, the Party reported a negative balance after returning the SCA's dirty money.

Fox's self-serving diatribes to this blog, while interesting, fail on numerous levels to shed any real light on the SCA. Fox continues to frame the argument as if he's defending himself in a criminal trial, perhaps because of his law-enforcement background. He seems to believe it all comes down to whether there's a reasonable doubt that he -- and now the known members of the SCA -- are innocent of circumventing campaign finance laws. So he's giving us just enough information to plant reasonable doubt that there was no criminal conspiracy. And he's leaving out a lot of stuff:

* Fox hasn't told us about the meetings with SCA members and others, much less what was discussed. Back in March, he did say he discussed the SCA account with "three or four people" and that the bank account info spread by word of mouth:

"The account number got spread around," he said. "I don't know. Somewhere down the road, wealthy people heard about it and donated money. The purpose is, I never intended to use it for Arpaio's campaign."

So far, neither Arpaio's top deputies -- except for Fox -- nor the "wealthy people" are willing to answer questions about their involvement.

* Fox hasn't expounded on the domain names set up by Larry Black, or the political committees he set up with Black that shared a P.O. Box with the SCA. And what about the name SCA? Fox recently began arguing that the name has no meaning, that the letters don't constitute an acronym.

* Fox doesn't explain how his boss, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott, can be a major part of the SCA but not its leader. Hendershott, in typical fashion, is nowhere to be seen. He treats the public like a dog, even when his name's wrapped in scandal.

Let's not forget here that Hendershott, before the election, told a Democratic county attorney candidate he should put in a public-records request with the Sheriff's Office to obtain scurrilous info about Dan Saban -- info that soon showed up in the smear ad.

Now that Fox has turned over the list of names, what are we to make of the following statement to county elections by Fox in a June 12 letter?

If I can be allowed to provide the names to you of those who gave money to SCA privately, it will be obvious to you that I have been telling the truth the entire time. Specifically, that SCA is not a political committee and did not receive any contributions made for the purpose of influencing an election and no public disclosure is necessary or required beyond what has already occurred.

Frankly, it's impossible for us to imagine Karen Osborne, county elections director, agreeing to Fox's request here, then exclaiming, "Gosh, you're right!" when seeing the names of the sheriff's top command staff, Arpaio's buddy Steve Ellman, and a few out-of-state rich guys who donated for reasons only the SCA knows.

What's really pathetic is that Fox thought he could fool Osborne like that. And fool us.

Fox's letter goes on to ask the elections department "if consideration can be given to those who are involved only because they innocently sent money to a bank account almost a year or more prior to the election."

Two things we need to remind you about here:

The first thing is, The SCA kept the list of names secret before the offensive ads ran. A letter by Randy Pullen, chairman of the Republican Party, discusses conversations he had with SCA members about turning over that list of names. We still don't know who was included in those conversations because Fox hasn't told us, but the fact seems to be that at least two of the conversations happened before the first offensive ad aired.

That severely damages Fox's premise that he wanted to keep the list secret because he was worried people might link the ad to the contributors.

The second thing is, as New Times columnist Sarah Fenske reported yesterday, something funny went on after the Republican Party returned the SCA money to Fox (which, of course, was because Fox hadn't yet spilled the beans that his boss, Hendershott, and Steve Ellman were involved).

Fact is, some of the contributors who may have "innocently" donated to the SCA a year before the election, as Fox put it, made large contributions directly to the Republican Party just after the Party returned the SCA money. Fox hasn't explained that yet. Hendershott won't talk. Ellman won't talk. Arpaio won't talk.

We're asked to take their actions as innocuous and innocent on nothing but faith.

That's not good enough for us.

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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.

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