The $10 million man
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has cost the people of his county nearly $45 million
in lawsuits that were filed by victims whose civil rights were violated—people who were unfairly harassed, illegally detained or arrested, tortured or even killed
. Arpaio was charged by the Department of Justice
with abuse of powers, and a federal judge
ruled that his office engages in racial profiling. The former county attorney
and most of the sheriff's senior staff have been disbarred or fired for their role in helping to build Arpaio's police state.
Currently Sheriff Arpaio is in the middle of a civil contempt hearing for ignoring federal court orders to cease his immigration patrols and turn over evidence. Previous to the hearing, Arpaio admitted his guilt and tried to block the contempt hearing by offering to donate $100,000 to a civil rights organization. The judge declined that offer and the hearing began last month. During the first phase of the proceedings, which continue next month, Arpaio revealed that his attorney had hired a private detective to investigate the judge's wife. You can't make this shit up.
Here's something else that's hard to swallow: Sheriff Arpaio will run for re-election again in 2016, when he'll be 84, and unless he's jailed or otherwise prevented from running due to his legal battles, he will likely win. No strong candidates have registered to oppose him next year, and the few who have haven't raised a dime. Meanwhile, Arpaio's campaign has pulled in $5.5 million over the past two years, and more dollars are flowing in as a result of the federal charges, which nativists are spotlighting nationally.
"We have seen an uptick in fundraising. Whether it's related to this case, I don't know," said Chad Willems, Arpaio's campaign manager. "A flurry of calls have come into the office, with people saying they want to contribute, whether it's with a credit card or check."
Arpaio's professional fundraisers have been paid millions to wring every dollar possible from an active donor list of 250,000 people in all 50 states—suckers who love the sheriff's get-tough attitude, his anti-immigration yap, the birther investigation BS and the giant middle finger he constantly shoves in the Fed's face.
The current contempt charge provides the perfect fundraising tool: an "us-against-them" victimization scheme that turns a negative situation into a positive money-maker, and it appears to be working. The Arizona Republic reports that Arpaio currently has $2 million in his war chest and he hopes to raise at least $5 million more, with the possibility of reaching $10 million for a county sheriff's race! Heck, most Arizona congressional candidates in 2014 didn't even spend $1 million.
People often ask: How and why do voters in Maricopa County keep electing this blowhard? He costs you money and he's not a good lawman. But it matters little to his base that, in addition to the millions in lawsuits, his office misspent nearly $100 million on tanks and other toys. Nor does it matter that he mishandled hundreds of child sex abuse cases. The wingers don't care, they really don't.
Truth is, if it were up to longtime residents Joe Arpaio would not win—it's generally newer voters, often retirees in places like Sun City, who form his base. Also, if it were up to voters in Phoenix, Tempe and other urban areas, he would not win as his support lies mostly in outlying regions, which this 2012 election map illustrates. What's even worse is that most of the $10 million Arpaio's fundraisers hope to raise will come from people who don't even live in Arizona. The Maricopa County Democratic Party website says "we need to stand strong and united, determined to defeat Arpaio." And the plan is?