Selective Prosecution: Andrew Thomas Sits on Case Involving Sheriff While Demanding High-Paid Prosecutors for Stapley Case

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Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell

It's been 50 days since the Maricopa County Elections and Recorders departments sent County Attorney Andrew Thomas notice of possible crimes by top officials at the Sheriff's Office.

The two county agencies believe several laws have probably been broken by the contributors to the infamous SCA fund, many of whom hold the highest positions in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's command staff.

After making the finding, Recorder Helen Purcell and the elections department turned over the SCA case file on September 2 to a "higher investigative body for appropriate action."

That body was Thomas' office. And Thomas has taken no action at all on the finding, as far as we can tell. Talk to his people, and all you'll get is the mealy mouthed line, "It's under review." (That's still the line, as of today).

Sure, the state Attorney General's office is already investigating the SCA case, but you'd think Thomas has an ethical duty to act on such a high-profile potential corruption case.

He's been asked to do something with this case -- and he's blatantly refusing to do it.

Meanwhile, Thomas has been busy trying to find "special prosecutors to look into alleged wrongdoing by sitting County Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox. He's been stymied, for the time being. But if he's allowed, Thomas is more than willing to burn up a ton of taxpayer cash by bringing in a couple of ringers from Washington.

Thomas has offered the D.C. lawyers up to $475 per hour for their services. And how much is willing to spend on the SCA case? Not a penny, it seems.

Don't forget that the SCA appears to have funded an attack ad on the man who ran against Thomas in last year's election. Thomas has a motive for not wanting anyone to explore the SCA case too closely -- he might be tarnished in the process. In other words, sitting on the SCA case could rightly be seen as a cover-up.

Thomas claims the Board of Supervisors is thwarting justice in the Stapley case by preventing the hiring of special prosecutors. But if that's true, then Thomas himself is thwarting justice in the SCA case.

The ethical morass goes even deeper: The county attorney wants to give Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office all the authority to decide who will be targeted by the special prosecutors sought by Thomas.

If Arpaio hands the special prosecutors a case against Wilcox, they'll go after Wilcox.

That means the system has been rigged. The special prosecutors, if they're ever hired, won't be truly independent. They're just pieces in the political chess game.


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