Paul Chagolla, a deputy chief for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, claims in an open letter published in the Arizona Republic that his office does enough work serving felony warrants, and that critics on the subject are advocates of illegal immigration.
It's difficult for us to believe nearly anything coming from this guy's keyboard. As a public information officer, his job was as much to hide information as release it. Late last month, we told you about how he released jail statistics to the Arizona Republic that New Times had requested more than a year before. At the time, Chagolla told us that releasing the stats would be a violation of federal law -- yet he never cited any such law and refused to elaborate on how the request violated it. Any wonder we think he lied about the law?
The letter Chagolla wrote for Saturday's Republic about the Goldwater Institute's criticism about unserved felony warrants seems like another example of the kind of propaganda Chagolla learned to write as Sheriff Joe Arpaio's spokesman.
In his April 11 commentary, "State should address warrants problem," Clint Bolick continues to mislead readers by writing that " . . . not a single (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) deputy is assigned to serve warrants." He also fashioned the statement that the Sheriff's Office "does not systematically look for felony warrants." Because of his disingenuous portrayal of the information I provided at the state Senate judiciary hearings, and because he refuses to return our calls, the record needs to be set straight.
for the PDF version of Chagolla's letter.
Here's what Bolick actually wrote in his own guest column:
What's worse is that Chagolla testified that not a single MCSO deputy is assigned to serving warrants. MCSO clears warrants when it books suspects into its jails or when someone it arrests for another crime has an outstanding warrant, but it does not systemically look for felony-warrant fugitives. MCSO had a successful warrants unit until about six years ago, but it was disbanded.
That's right -- Chagolla is accusing Bolick of misleading the public by restating Chagolla's own words. Nowhere in Chagolla's letter does he deny he's the one who first stated the idea that no deputies are assigned to serving warrants.
Chagolla does make it clear that sometimes, some deputies are assigned to serve some warrants -- but that was never in dispute.
Obviously, Bolick was decrying the fact that MCSO has no deputies assigned permanently to the task. And that fact was detailed by Chagolla himself at the State Senate hearing.
Chagolla's letter goes on to cite various statistics he thinks will help his argument, and then he goes for the jugular: He calls Bolick a "pro-illegal-immigration advocate" representative who wants to use the issue of warrants to deter Arpaio from hunting illegal immigrants.
When we called Bolick this morning, he laughs at the insinuation.
"Asserting the Goldwater Institute is pro-illegal immigration is a bit like saying Ronald Reagan was soft on communism," he says.
Bolick agrees that Chagolla's letter is a soft-headed attempt at propaganda.
"The word I keep using for it is 'feeble,'" Bolick says. "He responds to virtually none of my contentions -- which were based on MCSO's own statistics."
Bolick says that in responding to a Goldwater Institute request for public records, (made as part of the research for the Insititute's damning report on Arpaio's lack of a warrants program), the Sheriff's Office stated that while all deputies were responsible for serving warrants, not one deputy was assigned full-time to that responsibility.
"It seems that department can't respond to legitimate concerns without characterizing the person making the concern as pro-illegal immigration," Bolick says. "It's absurd, and I hope it's wearing thin."
UPDATE: Chagolla responds to New Times:
Looks like I have our strongest argument yet, even without all the information I sent to the Az Republic.
Clint Bolick's propaganda reference is both juvenile and comical, considering his report is derived from media reports. As well, the totality of the hearings are recorded. I stand by my letter.
I do not expect any favors Ray, but I called on his political agenda. I am surprised he did not respond or that you did not ask him to respond.
We thought the Reagan comment summed up Bolick's position, but maybe Chagolla knows something about him we don't. Could Bolick secretly be a member of Somos America?
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.