Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” but some of the policies that make him look “tough” are illegal, and he has been called to account for them in court. Arpaio is the subject of a racial profiling lawsuit, which was brought by a group of Latino citizens who say that they were stopped by members of the sheriff’s department just because they are Hispanic. A judge ruled three years ago that the tactics used by Arpaio are illegal and must stop. But the sheriff has continued them, and several days ago he was found in contempt of court.
Now county taxpayers are being handed a $13.2 million bill to cover the cost of the case for the next year. This comes on top of the $41 million Maricopa County citizens have paid in legal fees for the sheriff since the case was opened in 2007. And the county will have to keep paying those fees until Arpaio’s office is released from court supervision. Arpaio makes $100,000 a year as sheriff, and owns commercial real estate valued at around $2 million, but he has never been required to pay any of the costs of his defense.
County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, a longtime Arpaio critic, is not happy about having to continue to pay the cost of the sheriff’s non-compliance with the court ruling. Gallardo thinks it is time to hold Arpaio’s feet to the fire. “If we’re spending millions and the court appointed monitor says we’re only 30 percent in compliance, there are some tough questions the sheriff’s office needs to answer,” he said in a statement.
On Monday, the county board of supervisors voted to approve the spending as part of a $2.3 billion budget. A formal vote to approve the earmark will be held on May 31.
Apparently voters are ok with paying for Arpaio’s misdeeds. He has been sheriff since 1992, and keeps getting re-elected. And some Republicans in the state, such as Governor Doug Ducey, say they support him. Ducey recently called Arpaio “my friend.” But the contempt ruling may be a game-changer, as the sheriff could face criminal charges and jail time. What poetic justice it would be to see Arpaio locked up in a jail like the one he runs. THAT would be worth every penny of the $13.2 million.
Here’s a report on the bill Sheriff Arpaio is forcing on taxpayers:
Featured image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images