Maricopa County Craziness

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Pricey D.C. Lawyers Now on RICO Suit, Too

Just in case you were worried that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas aren't wasting enough money on their jihad against other county officials, we've got news for you.

Arpaio has now hired his own lawyer to represent his interests in Thomas' piece-of-crap racketeering lawsuit. Start running the time clock!

Arpaio is also a plaintiff in the case, which alleges a broad criminal conspiracy to strip Thomas of his license to practice law -- although we can't quite understand why Arpaio needs a lawyer other than Thomas' office. Perhaps we're not the only ones who've noticed that Thomas' deputies have botched this case six ways to Sunday?

We also can't tell you exactly what this will cost we taxpayers.

But we can hazard a guess that Arpaio's lawyers' haven't come cheaply. He's represented by the Washington, D.C.-based Robert Driscoll, a managing partner at the white shoe firm Alston & Bird.

Alston & Bird is the same firm helping Arpaio fight off a civil rights investigation from federal prosecutors. Thanks to that task, we've repeatedly asked the county to look into the hiring of the firm in question. (We've got letters showing they've been representing Arpaio's interests for at least a year.) But county officials can find no record of the firm's hire. The theory is that perhaps Arpaio's paying them out of a different pool of money, controlled exclusively by Arpaio -- like, say, jail-enhancement funds.

Driscoll didn't respond to our e-mails on this subject last year. Neither did the Sheriff's Office.

But Arpaio and Thomas have shown in the past that they're willing to pay through the nose for any lawyer with a fancy resume. They actually paid some silly D.C. firm $990 an hour to make the case that they should be allowed to read e-mails from local judges. (They lost, again and again.) They paid another silly D.C. firm to push their plan to eliminate Spanish-language DUI probation services. Again, they lost -- and $498,000 was washed down the drain

Alston & Bird, like the other firms that Arpaio and Thomas keep hiring, is full of fat resumes (who undoubtedly charge fat hourly fees.)

Here's an excerpt from its Web site:

We enjoy a rich history of individuals forming the fabric of the firm. One of the greatest legacies is the legendary golfer Bobby Jones, winner of the Grand Slam in 1930 and founder of the Augusta National Golf Club and former partner of the firm.  The firm continues to represent the Bobby Jones name and monitors trademark issues for the family.

More recently, our former partner Robert McCallum now serves as U.S. Ambassador to Australia, a position once held by Philip Alston, Jr.  One of the most significant engagements in the firm's history began with the appointment of our Partner Neal Batson by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York as Examiner for Enron Corp. in 2002.  This engagement was a unique opportunity to serve an objective role in examining one of the most visible and significant corporate failures in American history.  Neal's appointment recognizes both the highest level of excellence and his ethical reputation.  The addition of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to our firm's Legislative & Public Policy Group gives Alston & Bird clients access to one of the nation's most respected statesman and expert on public policy.

Bobby Jones? The ambassador to Australia? Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole?!?!?

We'll say this for Sheriff Joe: Dude has champagne taste even at a time when the county has a beer budget. But even Mr. Viagra himself, we're confident, wouldn't be able to save this stupid lawsuit. 

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske