During the summer of 2010, we watched as Joe Arpaio re-election ads ran on television even though he isn’t up for election until 2012. Turns out he was up to his old tricks of pushing the envelope to put the political dagger in the back of Maricopa County attorney Rick Romley.
It worked. Arpaio’s guy — Bill Montgomery — is our new county attorney. You see, Romley has long been accused of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only). I hate to see Romley go. He was one of the only Republicans I’ve ever seriously considered supporting. I guess he was too “fair and balanced.”
During most of the year, Arpaio was raiding small local businesses ridding them of their cheap labor — thus opening up low-paying jobs for the rest of us. Ha! You should see the lines forming at the local landscape company. If it wasn’t his covert operations complete with news helicopters, reporters, supporters and demonstrators, Arpaio was busy telling the world how innocent he was and how he was the victim in the ongoing grand jury and FBI investigations into alleged racial profiling, abuse of power and misuse of public funds.
Something has happened over the past two or three months that has had a marked impact on the “Toughest Sheriff in America.” He was a no-show on election night. He has been thanked but no thanked for some of his normal holiday show of force. He recently began piping Christmas music into his jails not only in English but in Spanish too! He even is playing music for Ramadan!
So what’s going on with Arpaio anyway? He’s hunkering down and lying low.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors took away his high-priced attorneys several weeks ago. Some of his most trusted and highest-ranking assistants have been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into their own alledged wrongdoing. The feds have been incrementally winning court approval of their requests for financial records and e-mails.
The door is closing. Justice may be lurking around the corner.
So what happens to Arpaio if he is found guilty? My guess is that the penalties will appear to be quite stiff in terms of jail time and fines. However, if history serves me correctly, politicians such as Arpaio typically don’t go to jail. Normally, they will plea bargain with the prosecutors and agree to something like resignation, probation, restitution, etc. Sort of a slap on the wrist. Though I believe if you “can’t serve the time, don’t do the crime.”
In this case, just to see Arpaio out of office would be akin to justice finally being served.
Jon Beydler is a 32-year Valley resident and the former mayor of Fountain Hills who now lives in Chandler