Thursday, December 12, 2019

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Faces Lawsuit From Justice Department

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday after his failure to cooperate with the federal government on an investigation looking into allegations that his practices discriminate against Hispanics.

The Justice Department, which has been investigating Arpaio for over a year, is calling the sheriff’s refusal to hand over documents “unprecedented.”

“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said. “It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities.”

Federal officials say Arpaio’s office has repeatedly declined to hand over documents to federal investigators examining whether his aggressive tactics against undocumented immigrants have violated their civil rights.

Arpaio and his attorney released a statement suggesting the lawsuit is nothing more than a publicity stunt.  They denied accusations that the sheriff has been uncooperative, but the suit by the Justice Department states Arpaio held a news conference at one point announcing he would not cooperate with the investigators.

“These actions make it abundantly clear that Arizona, including the Sheriff, is Washington’s new whipping boy,” Arpaio said. “It’s time to take the gloves off.”

In a separate investigation, a federal grand jury in Phoenix is examining whether Arapio misused federal funds and abused the power of his office to intimidate his political opponents.

The state of Arizona has been facing pressure from the federal government for its anti-immigrant policies in the last few months.  The lawsuit against Arpaio is the third targeting harsh immigration policies in the state, which many have called racist.  The first came against the controversial SB 1070 and Gov. Jan Brewer.   On Monday, the department also sued the Maricopa County Community College district for allegedly placing illegal requirements on non-citizens seeking jobs.

The Washington Post