Sheriff Arpaio Seeks Attention, Dislikes What He Gets

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., complained about a supposed “blackout” on news of his investigation into the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate. He finally got the media coverage he craved — though hardly to a tune of his liking.

In recent months, the man who bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” became the subject of a federal civil rights investigation into racial profiling. Also, Maricopa County budget officials reported that Arpaio had improperly spent nearly $100 million in jail funds to pay for other operations, including immigration patrols and raids.

Then, in December, The Associated Press reported that Arpaio’s office had “inadequately investigated” more than 400 sex-crime cases between 2005 and 2007, many involving children of undocumented immigrants. Investigators in the town of El Mirage, which paid the sheriff’s office $2.7 million for police protection during those years, told the AP that an “overwhelming majority” of the cases — including at least 32 involving child molestation — hadn’t been worked at all.

The parade of criticisms came just months after the sheriff grumbled to a handful of news outlets (most notably the far-right, online WorldNetDaily) that no one was paying attention to his promise to use his all-volunteer “Cold Case Posse” to get to the bottom of Obama’s origin.

That promise, in fact, made Arpaio something of a figurehead in the so-called “birther” movement, prompting arch-birther Jerome Corsi to exclaim: “It’s a serious investigation. ... They’re collecting hundreds of pages of documentation, they’re talking to multiple experts, they’re corroborating statements. It’s ongoing — and it’s widening!”

Arpaio did little to quash that claim. He appeared on a local television news program and promised the Globe, a supermarket tabloid, a “bombshell world exclusive.”

According to an unnamed source in one Globe report, the sheriff’s “posse” had broadened the scope of its inquiry to include rumors that the president’s father was left-wing poet and activist Frank Marshall Davis. The tabloid also said that Arpaio’s investigators, unsatisfied with the “long-form” birth certificate the president released in April, were planning to request the document in its original “ink-and-paper” form.