Photo: Joe Arpaio
It has not been a easy couple weeks for the counties “Meanest Sheriff.” In the last couple of weeks, Maricopa County’s Joe Arpaio has had the following accusations made:
1.) An internal affairs investigation revealed abuse and mismanagement.
2.) Arizona’s Attorney General exposed potentially illegal campaign activity.
3.) A county budget probe determined that the sheriff’s office misspent $99 million in taxpayer money.
The internal affairs report has led to the firing or resignation of three members of Arpaios command staff, including his longtime chief deputy, David Hendershott.
Hendershott started working for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in 1978. He retired in 1999 but was soon rehired as Arpaio’s number two—allowing him to collect a salary as a civilian employee as well as his county retirement benefits.
Arpaios defense is that he was “unaware” of the legal activity happening during his watch. How much did the head of the 3,400-person sheriff’s department know about wrongdoing by his employees and how directly was he involved? The probes are hoping to clarify this.
“It defies common sense that Joe did not know,” said former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, a Republican and long-time critic of Arpaio. “It’s almost comical—the public ultimately should not stand for it.”
Romley said he was surprised there hasn’t been more of a public uproar over the recent findings about the apparent misuse of taxpayer dollars, abuse of power and possible illegal campaign activities.
“He [Hendershott] let me down and the entire sheriff’s office,” Arpaio said during Tuesday’s press conference. “I heard some critics say that either I have been asleep at the wheel or I’m simply incompetent. I assure you that I’m neither. No one is beyond being fooled by people placed in a position of trust,” he said, adding that Hendershott was solely responsible for his unethical behavior.