Taxpayers Won't Foot the Bill For Dennis Wilenchik's SCA Defense, Says County

Following up on our coverage of the SCA campaign finance scandal, some readers have questioned the hiring of Dennis Wilenchik.

The attack dog lawyer is the sheriff's go-to guy -- the "special prosecutor" in charge of the aborted investigation that led to the arrests of New Times' owners Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. He's also Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' former boss.

Not coincidentally, Wilenchik is also tied up in this campaign-financing brouhaha on several fronts. He's both the guy who was desperately peddling nasty insinuations about Arpaio opponent Dan Saban, and the lawyer who's now been hired to represent the sheriff's command staff implicated in the SCA scandal -- a scandal which hinges on whether the commanders laundered money to pay for an ad delving into those very same nasty insinuations.

And those tangled connections led some astute readers to ask: Who exactly is paying this guy for his command staff representation?

We posed this question to Richard De Uriarte, spokesman for the Board of Supervisors. He assured us that, to the best of the supervisors' knowledge, the county is not footing the bill for this case.

"I don't think anybody sees this as official county business," he told New Times. That means, he says, the commanders should be on their own for legal fees.

De Uriarte says Wilenchik's hire in the SCA case was never brought to the supervisors for approval, which should mean that the Sheriff's Office perceives the situation in the same way. One caveat, from De Uriarte: "We don't get the bills 'til the end." And no, we wouldn't put it past them to slide this one in at the last minute.

But though Wilenchik does, in fact, represent the Sheriff's Office on plenty of other business, De Uriarte warns that the county sees that as no excuse for sloppiness: "We would assume that Mr. Wilenchik, if he is representing any of the members of the sheriff's command staff on other cases, is being scrupulous in his time-keeping so there wouldn't be any overlap on representing these individuals on a county matter and now a non-county matter."

Sounds good to us. And rest assured, dear readers, we'll be checking up on all invoices submitted by Wilenchik as this case progresses.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske