Supervisors Spend $375,442 and Counting to Stop Mary Rose Wilcox From Getting $975,000
Flores wrote in her analysis that the evidence did reveal that Stapley may have been guilty of something. Stapley should have revealed on his financial disclosure forms, required for elected officials, that he'd received tens of thousands of dollars in donations to a campaign he ran for a board position with the National Association of Counties. Stapley can whine, but it won't erase the fact that his actions in collecting the NACo money off the books from people he might deal with in his capacity as supervisor and then spending the money on personal items were less than honorable.
But as Flores had noted two years ago, the actions of Arpaio and Thomas were reprehensible and tainted the Stapley case beyond repair.
Last month, the county decided that giving Stapley $3.5 million was better than the anticipated butt-whupping in court. The settlement followed a scathing opinion and ruling by Judge Wake, who rejected motions by Arpaio to end Stapley's lawsuit.
Supervisor Wilcox, arguably, has a stronger case against the county. Yet she's also asking for more money, proportionately. Slightly less than half of Stapley's award went into his pocket, but Wilcox's expenses, estimated to be less than $400,000, are about 40 percent of her settlement with Smith.
Campbell notes that if the county prevails before the Ninth Circuit and the $975,000 settlement award is overturned, Wilcox will keep pressing her claim. The county then will spend hundreds of thousands more in legal fees and discovery preparing for a trial before the same judge.
Logic predicts that the county would decide to settle the case before a trial, as it did with Stapley and New Times -- and don't forget retired judges Gary Donahoe, Barbara Mundell, Ana Baca, and Kenneth Fields, businessman Conley Wolfswinkel's family, county IT chief Stephen Wetzel, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, and Stapley assistant, Susan Schuerman.
Campbell says, in retrospect, Wilcox's $975,000 settlement looks like a "bargain." Her settlement was made in April 2012, he points out, long before relevant depositions and documents that came out during the lawsuits by Donahoe and Stapley.
"I don't understand what the county is doing," Campbell says. "It really makes no sense."
Perhaps politics make the difference: Wilcox is a Democrat, and the other four supes and the county attorney are Republicans.
If the county loses the appeal, after the March 11 hearing in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit court could award Wilcox all or part of her settlement award, plus legal fees to date.
But it looks like the most expensive option would be for the county to win the appeal.