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September 6, 2012

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It’s been a big week for the Constitution of the United States, the State of Arizona, and its major county (Maricopa) if you’ve been paying attention, or have not but potentially give a crap about State’s Rights (or its literal big brother). I can even credit the Miraculous President for this, to the surprise of many! Allow me to start from scratch:

Joe Arpaio is the five-time elected sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.  He is a second-generation American of Italian-born parents, a 25-year D.E.A. agent with posts in Argentina, Turkey and Mexico, and a man married to the same woman for more than 50 years. And he is a universally hated son-of-a-bitch, despite the support of constituents who have been re-electing him since 1992, to the consternation of his detractors, which makes me a fan.

Arpaio has challenged the First Amendment rights of prisoners to bear pornography, and won. And he required all inmates over 18 to register for the Selective Service System.

On the other hand, he has also been accused of spying on political rivals, racial profiling of Latino drivers for their legal immigration status, as well as the target of misspent funds gathered from the sale of pink underwear to the public.

In a letter to Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery concerning their decision to end their multi-million dollar investigation without charging anyone, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel wrote: “Federal prosecutors decided to not prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by sheriff’s officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and other matters. The U.S. Attorney’s Office had already made public it would not pursue charges on those matters.”

“Law enforcement officials are rightfully afforded a wide swath of discretion in deciding how to conduct investigations and prosecutions. Unfortunately, such discretion can act as a double-edged sword: although it empowers fair-minded prosecutors and investigators to discharge their duties effectively, it also affords potential for abuse. Our limited role is to determine whether criminal charges are supportable. After careful review, we do not believe the allegations presented to us are prosecutable as crimes.”

Potential misuse of credit cards entrusted by the public? Bad. Not proving any actual wrong doing? Not so bad, unless you’re the one having to admit it.

The Arpaio investigation began almost immediately after President Obama moved into the Oval Office and his nominee for attorney general (Eric Holder) was confirmed. Holder immediately initiated investigations of CIA interrogators and Arpaio, to give you a picture of his priorities. Three years and $30 million later, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found that criminal charges are unsupportable. Go ahead and start your defenses now.  

Knowing that I am a now minority supporter of the U.S. Constitution and an even lesser known concept called “States Rights,” this is actually a big week for our country. Am I pissed off? You bet. But I also consider it a “tie” for the nonsense from the same Justice Department regarding the 2008 case of King Samir Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party in which showing a weapon, making threatening statements, and wearing paramilitary uniforms in front of polling station doors calling white people “white devil” does not constitute voter intimidation.

Civil cases still swirl around Arpaio, but what a bittersweet vindication for him, and those like him.

Happy Birthday, America. This is actually a belated present. Hope you get more come January.

Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.

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September 6, 2012

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