The Wild West

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by Conor Friedersdorf

If any public official in America deserves the contempt of all citizens, it is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County lawman who has forced innocent men to march down the street in pink underwear, reportedly forced a Latina woman to give birth while shackled to a bed, and is now trumping up bribery charges against a local judge. That Arizonans repeatedly elect this man is a mark against their polity.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.

Last year, when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation of Arpaio's immigration enforcement, the Sheriff's Office demanded to see Gordon's e-mails, phone logs and appointment calendars.

When the police chief in one suburb complained about the sweeps, Arpaio's deputies raided that town's City Hall.

A local television station, KPHO, in a 10-minute-long segment last month, documented two dozen instances of the sheriff launching investigations of critics, none of which led to convictions.

The most notorious case involves county Supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican who has sometimes disagreed with Arpaio's immigration tactics. Last December, deputies arrested Stapley on charges of failing to disclose business interests properly on his statement of economic interest.

Stapley's alarmed supervisor colleagues had their offices swept for listening devices. Arpaio contended the search was illegal and sent investigators to the homes of dozens of county staffers to grill them about the sweep.

And see the tireless Radley Balko here for another example of this man's penchant for obstinate lawlessness.

Given all that, can a reader from Arizona please explain this to me: "PHOENIX The most popular choice for governor among Republicans is someone who isn't running now and may not run at all: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio." There is no instance I know of in America where the grassroots of the Republican Party could do more damage to liberty than to elect this man governor.

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