During Sheriff Joe Arpaio's December deposition in the ongoing racial-profiling lawsuit
, which up until then had not been turned over to the plaintiffs' lawyers in the case.
This, even though David Bodney, chief counsel for the plaintiffs, had repeatedly sought all immigration-related files from the sheriff's office. Arpaio agreed during the deposition to hand a copy over to Bodney.
The file, which I reviewed recently via a public records request, was over 800 pages long, and was made up of clippings, hand-written notes, and press releases dealing with Arpaio's transformation of the MCSO into an immigration enforcement agency. Most of the documents date from 2006 to the present.
There were also several of my Bird columns and Feathered Bastard blog items, most of them covering Arpaio's continuing embrace of nativist extremism.
Like you needed more proof of Arpaio's fiddling with the far right, the file included articles from the hate Web site VDARE.com
, supposedly named after Virginia Dare, the first white baby born in the New World.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has noted
that VDARE.com "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites." Finding tracts from this site in the file of the chief law enforcement officer of our county is unusually disturbing, particularly as the articles laud him.
Along with the hate literature, there's a long legal opinion from Arpaio's nativist attorney Kris Kobach, who's been hired by the sheriff's office at the rate of $300 per hour to train MCSO gendarmes in immigration law
The handwritten notes in the file seem to be from Arpaio himself, considering they are penned in the first person.
One decries a pinata-bash,
with Arpaio as one of the pinatas, as sending the message that it's OK "to beat a [law enforcement] official with sticks."
Straus confirmed to me that he had been contacted by Arpaio's office, which sought him to be present at a press conference where Arpaio would have defended himself against allegations made by the Mayor and New Times regarding his extremist backers.
Joe-foe and pro-immigration advocate Elias Bermudez comes up as well. One typewritten note suggests Bermudez could be prosecuted after he appeared on a local right-wing radio talk show, where host Darrell Ankarlo supposedly asked Bermudez about people calling in false or prank reports.
The activist garnered the disapproval of many callers to Arpaio's office, most of whom gave the sheriff addaboys, and encouraged him to stand tall against illegal immigrants.
One went farther, saying, "I would shoot Bermudez if I could get away with it."
There's no indication of whether or not the threat was investigated by the MCSO.
Among the other contents of the file are: a petition circulated by nativist extremist Buffalo Rick Galeener that lent Arpaio the casus belli
for his infamous sweep of Cave Creek and Bell Roads; a list of political rival Dan Saban's supporters; a note from Arpaio listing the many interviews he's conducted with various news outlets; and notes documenting a phone conversation with Arizona ICE honcho Matt Allen.
The Allen note, dated July 25, 2009, involved an incident where Arpaio taped ICE agents and played them for the media.
During the phone call, according to the scrawled record of it in the file, Allen accused Arpaio of abrogating his 287(g) agreement with ICE. The agreement allowed Arpaio's deputies to interrogate suspects regarding their residency status. (Arpaio's 287(g) street authority was jerked later that same year.)
Arpaio told Allen, regarding a change in ICE policy at the time to refuse noncriminal aliens from MCSO's sweeps, that, "This is all political. He seemed to agree."
Interestingly, Allen wondered if Arpaio was taping the confab. Arpaio said no, though the question itself indicates the level of distrust between MCSO and the feds.
There's something creepy about seeing the kid's essay in Joe's file. Was Arpaio reveling in his infamy among grade-school kids, or keeping tabs on a newspaper column writer of the future?