Feathered Bastard

Andrew Thomas' Ex-Special Prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik Appointed to Real Estate Board by Governor Jan Brewer

File this one under "outrage du jour": Dennis Wilenchik, the former special prosecutor whose runaway investigation of New Times resulted in the wrongful arrests of Village Voice Media Editor Michael Lacey and VVM CEO Jim Larkin, has been appointed by Governor Jan Brewer to sit on Arizona's Real Estate Advisory Board

The nine-member panel provides the Arizona Real Estate Commissioner with recommendations "necessary and beneficial to the best interests of the public," according to the website for the state Department of Real Estate. The position is unpaid, and Wilenchik's term lasts six years.

The appointment of Wilenchik to any position involving the "interests of the public" is troubling, as he was fired in 2007 by his former boss, now disbarred and disgraced ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, less than 24 hours after the nighttime arrests of Lacey and Larkin by MCSO thugs on bogus misdemeanor charges.

Those arrests caused an unprecedented public outcry, which forced Thomas to end the probe of New Times and ax Wilenchik, who was his hand-picked attack schnauzer. Wilenchik, however, continued to represent the county in civil cases.

Wilenchik's investigation of New Times was part witchhunt, part vendetta, all over a 2004 article looking into Sheriff Joe Arpaio's real estate deals by New Times reporter John Dougherty. In that piece, Dougherty revealed Arpaio's home address, as it was the only address available through public records. Arpaio had ordered the addresses of all his other holdings redacted.

It's not against the law to publish such an address in print, but there is an obscure Arizona law, unknown to Dougherty at the time, which makes it illegal to post a cop's home address online. 

Arpaio had been seeking indictments against New Times for a couple of years for this supposed crime, but he couldn't get a county attorney to touch the matter, until Thomas took up the cudgel.

Thomas was Wilenchik's ex-employee, and so Thomas empowered his pal to go after New Times. Though a grand jury had yet to be empaneled, Wilenchik nevertheless issued subpoenas in the grand jury's name. 

When Wilenchik sought improper, ex parte communications with Judge Anna Baca, who had been assigned the case, Lacey and Larkin exposed Wilenchik's broad, over-reaching subpoenas in a cover story "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution."