Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The "Sunday Square Off" roundtable hosted by Brahm Resnik evaluated the legal and political fallout for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona Republicans from the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights case against the sheriff.
UPDATE: From the Arizona Republic Claims, missteps may crack Arpaio's political armor:
For nearly two decades Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has seemed an invincible political juggernaut. Few dared to run against him, and those who criticized him publicly feared that they might themselves be targeted for retribution.
But longtime critics are detecting a shift in the political winds, saying the one-two punch of a blistering Justice Department letter alleging civil-rights abuses and a scandal involving more than 400 mishandled sex-crimes cases may have finally shaken Arpaio. They say the five-term Republican lawman's policing tactics targeting illegal immigrants have given Arizona a black eye and the time may be right for the state's GOP heavyweights such as Gov. Jan Brewer and U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl to try to pressure him out of office.
Barring that, critics believe that Arpaio could at last be vulnerable to either a Republican primary challenger or a moderate-to-conservative Democrat in the 2012 general election.
Federal investigators on Thursday outlined allegations of rampant racial profiling against Latinos and other illegal policing practices in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Justice Department officials also accused Arpaio's office of unlawfully retaliating against people who complain about its activities and policies. That alleged abuse of power by Arpaio also is the focus of a separate federal criminal probe.
* * *
The allegations of mismanagement and unprofessionalism have increased the drumbeat of calls for Arpaio's resignation. But Arpaio still has plenty of supporters, some of whom demonstrated in Phoenix on Thursday after the Justice Department issued its report. Some of his political allies in Arizona and across the country also rallied to his defense[.]
* * *
Many others in the GOP so far have said nothing.
"Where is John McCain and Jon Kyl?" said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a national group that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. "They're national leaders, and they're letting the reputation of Arizona be trashed by a thug like Arpaio? You know the kind of moral and political strength McCain and Kyl have. ... At a minimum, one would think that the adults in Arizona would step forward and say, 'All right, the crazies have been running the asylum for too long. Let's work to create a pro-business climate in Arizona, a bipartisan approach to solving tough problems, and stop making Arizona the laughingstock or the bogeyman of the rest of the country.' "
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and Kyl, the Senate minority whip, publicly expressed concern about reports that Arpaio's agency failed to follow up on more than 400 alleged sex crimes between 2005 and 2007. Some of the cases involved children.
"Victims of abuse not only deserve the respect of law enforcement, but their rights must also be protected throughout the criminal justice process," McCain and Kyl said in a Dec. 8 joint written statement.
Neither McCain nor Kyl was available for comment on the Justice Department's inquiry.
Brewer is waiting to hear Arpaio's side of the story.
"I think everybody's concern is that we don't want anyone's civil rights violated," Brewer told reporters Friday. "That has always been of big concern to me."
There is precedence in Arizona for a coordinated effort by Republican leaders to push for an embattled GOP official to step down.
In January 1988, McCain, then a freshman senator, and Kyl, then serving in the U.S. House, held a news conference with then-U.S. Reps. Jim Kolbe and Jay Rhodes to call for the resignation of controversial then-Gov. Evan Mecham, who was facing a recall election over his incendiary decision to rescind Arizona's original paid holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. as well as other issues. Retired U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the 1964 GOP presidential nominee, had led the way a few months earlier by saying Mecham should quit. Mecham, remembered today for numerous intemperate comments and verbal gaffes, refused to step down and eventually was impeached and removed by the Arizona Legislature before the recall election was held.
"Truthfully, I do believe that the leaders of the party should consider having that type of a discussion," said former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, a longtime Republican critic and political foil of Arpaio's. "Barry Goldwater did that with Mecham. I think that's leadership for the good of the party. Whether or not the person would listen is always another matter."
* * *
Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, a Republican, said he believes there is a chance that GOP leaders still will stand up against Arpaio.
"The seriousness of the situation is pretty unprecedented," said Woods, who thinks Arpaio should quit. "Would he care? I doubt it. That would be analogous to Mecham in some respects -- he didn't really care, either."
And then there are demagogues like Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who called the Justice Department investigation a political "smear job" and "a sneak attack on Arpaio." Although he had not read the report, Kavanagh said “I don’t believe the report, and I stand by Sheriff Arpaio.” GOP stalwarts stand by Arpaio; Dems say DOJ report not political - Arizona Capitol Times. Idiot.
Arpaio's latest troubles follow the ballot-box defeats of two of his key allies in his fight against illegal immigration. Andrew Thomas, county attorney from 2005 to 2010, last year lost his primary race for Arizona attorney general. More recently, former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the author of Arizona's controversial Senate Bill 1070, was ousted in a recall election.
* * *
An opposing candidate could run against Arpaio solely on the issue of dereliction of duty with regard to the botched sex-crimes cases and not even have to mention immigration, said Sharry of America's Voice.
"I suspect this will be the beginning of the end for Arpaio," Sharry said. "He rode an issue that is deeply emotional and deeply frustrating and milked it for as much publicity and popularity that he could. Now you can see that the tide has turned in Arizona and elsewhere."