Yes, Sheriff Joe Arpaio Did Indeed Spend Taxpayer Money for Obama Birther Investigation

Jun 21, 2012
9:33 AM

First of all, kudos to Channel 12 in Phoenix for accessing the expense reports from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and reporting the fact that taxpayer money was used by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "Cold Case Posse" to travel to Hawaii and investigate the birth of President Barack Obama.

Here is the report filed yesterday.

Basically, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors rejected the use of private funds to offset these expenses. Here is what Arizona's top newspaper reported:

The Board of Supervisors, in a split vote Wednesday, declined to accept private funds to offset the costs, with the Sheriff's Office claiming in the aftermath of a rancorous debate that politics guided the supervisors' decision.

The two supervisors who voted against accepting the funds, Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley, were both the subjects of sheriff's investigations in the past and have filed claims against the Sheriff's Office and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas alleging wrongful prosecution.

"They're letting their politics hurt taxpayers," said Lisa Allen, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. "We said we weren't using taxpayer money. We're trying to live up to our end of the bargain, and they're trying to keep the sheriff from living up to his end of the deal. That's bad business."

Supervisors Andy Kunasek and Max Wilson voted to accept the private funds, while Supervisor Fulton Brock was absent from the meeting and did not vote. Allen said the agency will try again to get the board to accept the donations, intended to defray some of the roughly $9,600 in salary, benefits and travel expenses the Sheriff's Office reported for the deputy who accompanied the volunteer posse to Hawaii.

"We need to wait for some common sense to prevail at the board," she said. "Why in the world would they not accept the money?"

The report mentions that Citizens for a Better Arizona appeared at the hearing and voice its concerns:

About 30 members of Citizens for a Better Arizona, an anti-Arpaio activist group led by Randy Parraz, attended Wednesday's meeting to protest the agenda item. Members asked the board not to accept private donations to "backfill" the sheriff's use of public funds.

They argued that the investigation was "well outside the jurisdiction of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the duties and responsibilities of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors."

When Kunasek began explaining to the activists that the supervisors and sheriff are separately elected and that he believes the supervisors should not have a say in what criminal investigations the sheriff pursues, the crowd began heckling. Parraz pointed and yelled at Kunasek, accusing him of allowing public funds to be used for what Parraz called a waste of taxpayer money.

Stapley and Wilcox, who have filed legal claims against Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas over previous grievances, agreed with Parraz and other activists. Stapley said the board's acceptance of private funds would cover up what he believes was misspending of taxpayer funds for the Obama investigation. 

Here are some YouTube videos of yesterday's hearings:

So, in a move that will be seen by many as duplicitous, it is ok to use taxpayer money to go one a wild goose chase and then ask for private money after the fact? We have two words for this: #NoMames.