Saying their request for information is "burdensome, overly broad, and intended to harass," the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office told the Board of Supervisors today that it will not comply with a subpoena demanding financial records.
The supervisors have been demanding the information since March -- resorting to a subpoena two weeks ago when their requests were met with silence.
As we reported last week, refusing to comply with the subpoena could lead to Sheriff Joe Arpaio facing a civil warrant for his arrest and ultimately being forced to appear before the board to answer for his refusal.
However, knowing this county, it's much more likely to result in (you guessed it!) costly litigation.
Representing the sheriff's office on the matter is its law firm of choice these days, Ogletree Deakins.
In a letter dated today, Ogletree attorneys Eric Dowell and Alec Hillbo argue that the board issued the subpoena not to get to the bottom of the financial situation in the county, but to "retaliate" against the sheriff's office "for protecting its legal interests and performing its law enforcement duties."
In its request for documents, the county had suggested that the sheriff was misusing the Jail Enhancement Fund, which involves a special sales tax approved by the voters to subsidize jail construction and operations. They believed that money, despite the earmark, was going to finance Arpaio's pet projects -- like immigration sweeps and harassing judicial assistants -- instead.
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In their response, Dowell and Hillbo claim, strangely, that the county both does not have jurisdiction over the Jail Enhancement Fund -- and that the county already has the records in question anyway. Okaaaaaaaaaay then.
Finally, stealing a play from former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, Dowell and Hillbo demand a "legitimate means for securing the information without abusing its subpoena power through harassment and retaliation." To that end, they suggest asking former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor to appoint a "neutral third-party auditor."
Seriously, guys -- doesn't Ruth McGregor have better things to do in her retirement than serve as a full-time mediator? And what the heck is a "third-party auditor" anyway?
Personally, we think the supervisors might be better off going the arrest route. They could even auction off photos of Sheriff Joe in handcuffs to cover Ogletree Deakins' legal fees! Really, wouldn't that be a better strategy than sticking the taxpayer with the sheriff's bills once again?