Special Treatment

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After the November 2002 election, the Re-elect Joe Arpaio campaign took out a new set of campaign finance reports to cover contributions collected in 2003 and leading up to this year's primary and general elections. The campaign violations occurred when Arpaio's campaign failed to add the money individuals contributed in 2002 to the amount the same individuals contributed in the current election cycle.

When I added the contributions individuals made in 2002 along with later contributions in 2003 and this year, I quickly found a dozen examples of where individuals contributed more than the $350 limit allowed for the sheriff's race from the time his campaign committee was formed in December 2001.

What I'm describing violates the law, says Kristi Passarelli, director of campaign finance for the Maricopa County Department of Elections.

Here's a sampling of a few of the apparent violations I discovered:

· Sheriff's office finance director Loretta Barkell gave $100 in October 2002 and $350 on February 24, 2004.

· Venture capitalist Robert Lavinia contributed $340 in May 2002 and $350 last February.

· Former AG candidate John Kaites contributed $200 in September 2002 and $350 last February.

· Defense attorney Darrow Soll contributed $340 in October 2002 and $350 on February 28 at the Colangelo-sponsored fund raiser.

You get the picture.

Outlaw Joe's campaign money is now being used to pay for the endorsements of out-of-state television personalities, such as John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted.

No one gives a damn about the campaign finance law violations down at the Maricopa County Department of Elections. The department, you see, only collects campaign finance reports. It can't be bothered with auditing them to see if candidates are violating the friggin' law.

Instead, it waits for complaints. And when they roll in about allegations of violations by Arpaio, the department simply ignores them. Tom Bearup filed a lengthy list of alleged campaign violations during the 2000 race with the department, and he tells me he never even got a response.

Surely this can't be because county election director Karen Osborne's daughter, Tamara Daigle, is married to one of Joe's deputies, Don Overton -- whose uncle is one of Arpaio's top aides, deputy chief Tim Overton.

I'm certainly not comfortable with Osborne's office overseeing the upcoming primary in which Saban has the best chance to beat Arpaio since Joe took office in 1992.

Given Osborne's direct family connection to the highest levels of power inside Joe's inner circle, Osborne should immediately declare a conflict of interest, step aside and ask Secretary of State Jan Brewer to handle the sheriff's race.

On second thought, Brewer's office isn't to be trusted, either -- given her cozy relationship with Jerry Colangelo when she was a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Oh, the tangled webs they weave . . .

There is only one option.

If Maricopa County is to soon rid itself of the Arpaio virus (it's far more dangerous than that West Nile thing), voters early next month must do the job that taxpayer-supported officials are too cowardly to do.

Deliver the knockout blow to Outlaw Joe.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty