Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's popularity may be plummeting in Maricopa County -- but he's still the politician of choice for donors across the country.
In fact, Arpaio's most recent campaign finance report shows that the surly sheriff garnered a staggering $1.2 million in donations in 2009, much of it from out-of-state donors hit up with fundraising pleas.
For the most part, these donors do not appear to be the influential lawyers and wealthy developers who typically contribute to political campaigns. These are, instead, a near army of little-known citizens, writing checks for whatever they can afford.
Indeed, Arpaio raked in $207,562 in donations of less than $25 each last year. That means something like 10,378 people bothered to send him $20 checks -- an average of 28 donations per day every day for the entire freakin' year.
And at least five of Arpaio's would-be donors sent him checks that bounced for insufficient funds. One of those checks, from a lady in West Phoenix, was made out for just $10. Poor dear apparently sent her last pennies to "America's toughest sheriff" -- and her bank account couldn't even cover that.
Now, you might wonder why the sheriff needs the lifeblood of your grandmother. Arpaio won't be up for reelection for another three years. By then, at this pace, he'll have nearly $5 million in the bank, even though he has yet to ever face a challenger who's managed to raise more than $100,000.
Can you say "overkill"?
And yet the fundraising appears to be continuing apace. Journalist Terry Greene Sterling recently reported that Sheriff Joe's peeps sent a letter to donors in Yavapai County, claiming he needed their help to combat pro-illegal immigration types. He sent a similarly whiny letter back in December.
But let us say this for the record: HE DOESN'T NEED THE MONEY.
During the 12 months in question, in fact, Arpaio paid his fundraising consultant, Summit Consulting, $353,521. The fundraiser's fees alone are 14 times what the hapless Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas managed to raise for his campaign for Arizona Attorney General.
Thomas aside, there are Republicans across the state who could use this money. The GOP wants to reclaim the Arizona Attorney General's seat and hold onto the governorship. The state Republican party is practically broke.
And yet Arpaio didn't write a single check to any of those entities. He just paid his fundraiser, and his computer consultant, and the real estate company he and his wife own (for rent for their campaign office, natch.)
It's all about him, and his needs, and his apparent martyrdom at the hands of the "illegals."
If you want to check out the report for yourself, you can find it here. Just a warning: It's 2,842 pages long. That's what happens when you have to disclose donations from everyone and their brother and their mother and their great-grandparents ...