Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office — the same law enforcement agency accused of retaliating against political opponents — wants the names of “each and every” resident interviewed by Justice Department officials who accused the MCSO of racial discrimination and other civil rights violations.
But a Justice Department spokeswoman said Wednesday that they “look forward to sitting down soon with MCSO,” but “will not hesitate to take prompt legal action” if they find that MCSO “is again failing to act in good faith.”
A defiant Arpaio had issued a statement on Wednesday (the deadline for MCSO to tell the feds whether they planned to cooperate with the three-and-a-half year investigation into allegations of discrimination) saying he would “not tolerate being micromanaged by Washington, DC.” He said he wants to evaluate all of the evidence the feds have on him and his office.
“What we want for the Department of Justice to do is play ball,” Arpaio said in a statement. “In other words, provide whatever proof they may have to back their findings - proof which, by the way, they have refused to give to us or to the media. And if they cannot prove their findings, which I suspect to be the case, then stop the political posturing.”
DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement to TPM that the findings of the Civil Rights Division “show a clear violation of the Constitution and federal law, and are more than sufficient to file a complaint against a law enforcement agency.”
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Offce, she continued, “purports not to understand the underlying basis for the findings when MCSO’s own actions and documents form the basis of these findings.
“If MCSO wants to debate the facts instead of fixing the problems stated in our findings, we will do so by way of formal litigation,” Hinojosa said. “MCSO’s repeated delays in this investigation resulted in further violations of the Constitution.”
Lawyers representing MCSO wrote in a letter to DOJ Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez that Arpaio and the MCSO were “certainly interested in participating in a constructive dialogue,” but said that dialogue could only take place if DOJ “provides the facts and information on which it bases its findings.”
The letter said that they “stand ready to litigate this matter should the DOJ refuse to provide the information we seek.”
The letter stated that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin apologized to Arpaio’s staff on Dec. 15 for “not being able to control the timing or manner of the announcement of the investigation’s findings, despite his earlier promise that if the MCSO fully cooperated with the DOJ’s investigation, a politicization of this investigation would not occur.”
DOJ, the letter stated, “asked for transparency from the MCSO and we provided it by complying with the DOJ’s requests for facility access, voluminous documentation, and information and interviews, including two interviews of Sheriff Arpaio. We now request reciprocal transparency and reasonable cooperation from the DOJ.”
Arpaio, nicknamed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and known for his hardline stance on immigration, has “promoted” and “encouraged” bias policing against Latinos, according to the feds. Recently he’s hit the campaign trail in support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry angering a lawyer for the family of a Latino veteran who was killed in the custody of MCSO deputies.