Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bounty on Arpaio's head? Real threat or convenient timing?

Stories are being reported (heavy exposure on Fox News and Drudge Report, and other rightwing outlets) that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the subject of a bounty put up by Mexican cartels.  The alleged offer was for $1 million to whoever could kill Arpaio.

Now, the threat may be real, but the timing seems to be more than a little convenient.

- As this piece from the Phoenix New Times points out, it comes at a time when Pinal County Sheriff (and fellow nativist) Paul Babeu's rising publicity star may be eclipsing Arpaio's.

..And if the threat is "convenient", it has worked - Arpaio was all over national cable news today, pledging that the "threat" won't deter him from doing his job of hunting down undocumented immigrants.

- This post from Tucson Progressive points out that the text message that allegedly contains the threat also contains a large quantity of spelling and grammatical errors.  More than can be explained by the normal exigencies of texting.

- Of course, if the "threat" is a hoax, as posited by Tucson Progressive in the above-linked post, the purpose may have been preemptive.  Instead of seeking to overshadow Babeu, it could have been intended to distract from news that broke earlier today.

From the AZ Republic -
The U.S. Justice Department will sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he continues to refuse to cooperate with a civil rights investigation, according to a letter obtained by The Arizona Republic.

The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division since March 2009 has been investigating Arpaio's operation for alleged discrimination and for unconstitutional searches and seizures. Arpaio has said he believes the investigation is politically motivated.

In a letter sent to Arpaio today, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez gave the Sheriff's Office until Aug. 17 to cooperate with the investigation, and to turn over documents requested last year for an inquiry into claims of discrimination based on national origin.

"MCSO's refusal to cooperate fully with the Division's investigation makes it an extreme outlier when compared with other recipients of federal financial assistance, which have uniformly recognized their obligation to cooperate with the Division's investigations of alleged discrimination," Perez wrote.
Or maybe it was targeted at this report from the New Times, documenting how Arpaio, in a fit of unexpected honesty in 2008, admitted proudly that his Tent City jail is like a "concentration camp."

Or maybe it was targeted at this report of how Arpaio's deputies arrested a Hispanic activist, Salvador Reza, twice in two days.  The first appears to be part of a planned act of civil disobedience where arrest was expected, even part of the plan.  The second, however, seems to be little more than a bit of attempted intimidation.  Reza has since been released and the County Attorney has declined to prosecute the "charges" stemming from the second arrest.  However, the damage to the credibility of the MCSO as a law enforcement agency has been done.
Of course, if the threat really is a hoax, the intent could be one of multitasking - overshadowing Babeu while, at the same time, distracting Arizonans and Americans from Arpaio's misdeeds.


Thane Eichenauer said...

Government officials may exaggerate and even lie to the public. Now there is an idea I hope more people will apply to any government official.

Pamela Jai Powers said...

Thanks for the link. Did you see the CNN interview yesterday? Arpaio stopped short of asking the FBI to investigate the threat. This leads me to believe that he also doesn't believe it is a real threat. He's using it to pump up his tough guy image. (Real men don't ask for help.) Also, I agree that it is a calculated distraction. How does this guy keep getting elected????

cpmaz said...

I saw the CNN interview, too. His reluctance to involve the FBI on a "threat" from an foreign group twigged my "hoax" radar.

If the threat is legitimate, it's something that the FBI *should* be involved with.

As for how he keeps getting elected, I'm not sure.

I guess it's Maricopa County, the most Republican part of a Republican-dominated state. It's populated by people who like their politicians to demonize the "other" in 30-second sound bites on the evening news.