Captain Joel Fox Explains His Side of Donation Flap in Comments to Valley Fever Posts

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For months, Captain Joel Fox of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office stayed quiet about his role in a questionable $105,000 donation to the Republican Party.

Now you can't shut the guy up.

Not that we'd want to: Everyone loves a good mystery, and Fox still won't tell the names of those shadowy "Sheriff's Command Association" members who gave him the money he donated. Any further details about this case are good details, as far as we're concerned.

On Wednesday, a hearing for Fox to appeal the $315,000 fine levied against him by the Maricopa County Elections Department was re-scheduled for March 31.

Fox is now laying out his case in the media, with a long interview on Wednesday (see the video by clicking here) and now these comments from the video post and a separate article about the hearing.

In the comments, Fox writes that:

*He'll be "forced" to reveal the names if the judge rules against him, but then contradicts that position by claiming he'll try to pay the fine himself if he can.

*He acquired the money over two years from private sources, none of whom were Joe Arpaio or Arpaio's chief deputy, Dave Hendershott.

*He's "surprised that anyone cares about this."

*His intent in giving the two checks totaling $105,000 in August and September of 2008 "was never to influence any particular election."

See Fox's comments in context on the aforementioned posts, or read them below:

Joel Fox says:

While I'm sure you all know much more about the facts of this case than I do, I wouldn't mind addressing some of your points.

I am not at all worried about the media's portrayal of Joe Arpaio. The Sheriff can, and does deal with the media in whatever way he sees fit. What I do care about is the media's tendency to throw deputies and detention officers under the bus in their attempts to discredit the Sheriff. Talk about Sheriff Joe all you like, but leave the hard working deputies and detention officers out of it, unless you have some reasonable proof of the allegations.

When I was asked if the donors would suffer only if they did something wrong, I replied "absolutely not", meaning that they would indeed suffer, even if they did everything right. People put money into the account with no intention of it being used for a campaign. Their contributions were not campaign contributions. Giving money to the Republican Party is also not a campaign contribution, because it is not for a particular candidate. These definitions are listed in ARS Title 16.
For these donors to be associated with campaign commercials that they had nothing to do with, and took no part in the decision for, would be a travesty.

You guys can certainly smoke 'em if you got 'em, but you might not write me off, just yet. I do know the law, and I do understand the law, but I also know that we have judges for a reason. In every single legal case, one side is wrong, and usually represented by an attorney. Laws are interpreted in their application, and not everyone agrees on every interpretation, although some are more obvious than others. Arizona Campaign finance laws are the least obvious of any laws I have ever read.

Nancy Simpson, you've asked the best question of them all...Why is he making a big deal out of it. Ma'am, I am not, and would be perfectly happy if this was no deal at all. I'm actually surprised that anyone cares about this. It's nothing more than a simple disagreement on the application of the law that will be decided by a Judge. If the Judge agrees with the county, then obviously, the campaign finance reports will have to be filed. If the Judge does not agree with the county, and instead finds that the donation to the party, ultimately returned, was not made for the purpose of influencing any election, then there was no violation of the law, no political committee, and no disclosure is required.

Why everyone cannot wait until the Judge makes this decision, prior to speculating, and making allegations of corruption and other heinous crimes, turning this into a "big deal" I do not know. Might it have something to do with wearing "I hate Joe" glasses, and only seeing their own desires for a different sheriff, rather than a rational, honest approach? Isn't a person still entitled to have their case heard in court before everyone just naturally assumes that illegal acts were committed? Or is that only for people other than cops? Maybe only for people other than sheriff's deputies? And aren't we still secure in our personal effects, so that government cannot intrude without cause, as determined by a Judge?

If you really want to know why it is a big deal, you might check with TommyC1, Dennis Gilman or Glyph. They certainly seem to have strong opinions about it.

Tommy, I took the morning off to attend the hearing, even though I am a salaried employee. Feel free to file an FOI for my timesheet anytime you like...and no one else from MCSO was at the hearing.

Inquiring Mind, the financial records of a political committee are, indeed, open to public scrutiny. That is the point of this case. My position is that SCA is not a political committee because my intent was never to influence any particular election. The county believes that it was my intent, as do most of the reporters covering this story, and most of the commenters online, thereby making SCA a political committee, and requiring the financial records to be made public.
I would suggest that you read Title 16 and decide what you think it is yourself, and then you can compare your interpretation to that issued by the judge at the end of this case. If you could put $315,000 at stake, you'd know precisely how I feel.

Of course, you could also throw several people into the fire who had no part in your decisions, just to save your own skin, if you like. Good luck looking in the mirror, afterwards.

Posted On: Thursday, Feb. 5 2009 @ 1:06AM

 

****

 

Joel Fox says:

It's good to get all that venom out...no good for the soul. I hope you all feel better now, but I also hope that both sides of this story might be told before everyone runs to get the noose and squirrely horse.

The SCA account was not set up for campaign purposes, so donors would have no idea the money might end up at the Republican Party. Their contributions were not campaign contributions as defined by ARS Title 16. I also do not believe that giving money to a political party qualifies as a campaign contribution, because it is not in support of a particular candidate. This is also defined in Title 16. But the law is such that it can be interpreted. Even judges have their decisions overturned on review by higher courts. The law may be black and white, and most laws are very clear, but Arizona campaign finance law is about as clear as mud. Mr. Messing and I disagree on a point of law, and I am asking a judge to make a final determination as is my right under due process.

Or don't those rights apply to cops? Maybe it is just deputy sheriff's?

This process is, indeed, not identical to a Superior Court trial. Some of the rules are relaxed. However, there is not a final ruling until after the judge reviews the case, if a hearing is requested. The hearing became a pre-hearing because I requested a pre-hearing conference and the Judge scheduled it on the originally scheduled hearing date, due to time constraints. The purpose of this conference was due to another disagreement between Mr. Messing and I in the interpretation of ARS 16-924. The judge will be issuing a ruling on that matter, which could change the scope of the hearing, if found in my favor. The issue is largely procedural, but all I am asking is that Mr. Messing adhere to the law. If you were accused of violating a law, you would expect nothing less of whoever was charging you, I would think. And if you felt your due process rights were not being honored, you would ask the judge to review the action and issue a ruling. This is the Judicial System, as it was designed to be. Sorry, but I hope you don't mind.

It is illegal to discuss with any political committee how donated money is to be spent. This particular law is very clear, and I seriously doubt the party would ever entertain such a conversation. There was no contact whatsoever with the party, prior to the donations, which is mostly the reason for the confusion, I believe. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, I have not contacted or spoken to anyone from the party since the checks were returned.

I know that all of you have me convicted already, and based on the past news reports, I can hardly blame you, but these assumptions about the purpose and intent, as well as any link to campaign ads made by the Republican Party are simply not true. Now, with all of the media attention, and public perception surrounding this case, I can hardly throw the donors to SCA under this bus, just to save my own skin. If I made a mistake, then the judge will rule against me, and I will be forced to release the names, but these donors gave money to a private fund, not a political one, and it is not ok in my book to have them associated with those commercials when they knew nothing about it. It was my sole decision to give money to the Republican Party so if there is a price to pay, then I will pay it alone, if I can.

None of the money came from Arpaio,or Hendershott or Arpaio's campaign, or anyone associated with Arpaio's campaign, nor did it come from any corporation or labor organization or any other illegal contributor. It was all private funds, solicited over a period of about 2 years. It is my opinion, based on the law, that this fund does not meet the definition of a political committee. I do understand if some of you disagree, as Messing does, but this is the reason we have a court system in the first place: to settle legal disputes.

This case will be decided only on the law, as the judge determines it. On a side note, in 2005, the Democratic Party was accused of accepting some improper contributions, and had to appeal their case all the way to the State Supreme Court before they got a ruling consistent with the law. Several attorneys, judges and political professionals disagreed on how the law was to be applied to that particular circumstance. Az Campaign Finance Law is complicated and can be interpreted in several ways with educated competent legal professionals taking different sides of an argument. One opinion does not mean a violation has been committed, despite all the headlines to the contrary.

Of course you remain free to come to your own conclusions, and I suppose I am lucky that the judge's last name is not Cozzolino, otherwise I may not enjoy the right to a fair trial, which I have always thought was the right of every citizen.

Posted On: Thursday, Feb. 5 2009 @ 11:56PM

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