Sheriff Arpaio Gets the Media Attention He Deserves

Be careful what you wish for.

Media-hungry Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who just last week complained about a supposed “black out” on news of his investigation into the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate, is finally getting the media coverage he deserves.

In a lengthy and widely circulated story, the Associated Press yesterday revealed that the 79-year-old Arizona sheriff’s office “inadequately investigated” more than 400 sex-crime cases that were reported to it between 2005 and 2007.

Investigators in the town of El Mirage, which paid Arpaio’s office $2.7 million for police protection during those years, say that an “overwhelming majority” of the cases they reviewed – including at least 32 involving child molestation – hadn’t been worked at all. Many of the victims, including a 3-year-old reportedly molested by her father, were children of undocumented immigrants.

Arpaio’s office declined to tell the AP why the cases were left to rot, but Bill Louis, a retired El Mirage police official who reviewed the files, believes they were deliberately ignored.

"I know the investigators,” said Louis, a former assistant police chief. “I just cannot believe they would wholesale discount these cases. The direction had to come [from] up the food chain” – probably, he said, from someone who knew that undocumented immigrants often avoid contacting the police out of fear of being deported. In other words, they’re unlikely to complain about their cases being ignored.

Arpaio, who describes himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” has no love for undocumented immigrants. He is currently the subject of a federal civil rights investigation into possible racial profiling. In April, county budget officials reported that he improperly spent nearly $100 million in jail funds to pay for other law enforcement operations, including immigration patrols and raids. Conditions at his jails were found in 2008 to violate prisoners’ constitutional rights.

The AP’s devastating report on his failure to investigate sex crimes is not the only media attention the sheriff is getting. No less prestigious a publication than the Globe, a supermarket tabloid best known for publishing the autopsy photos of celebrity murder victims and revealing the names of female accusers in high-profile rape cases, this week features a “bombshell world exclusive” on the lawman’s probe into the president’s true identity. According to an unnamed source, the sheriff’s all-volunteer “Cold Case Posse” (which is tasked with getting to the bottom of the non-controversy over Obama’s provenance) has 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 says that the posse, unsatisfied with the “long-form” birth certificate the president released in April, is now requesting the document in its original “ink-and-paper” form. “It’s a serious investigation,” arch-birther Jerome Corsi told Globe reporter Jim Nelson. “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 reportedly thanked the Globe for its coverage. “I love you guys,” he said. “You guys are the only ones carrying this story on Obama. [Not true: Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily, an online publication, has covered it relentlessly.] Thank you for getting this story out.”

So far, the AP is reporting no such expressions of gratitude for its excellent coverage of Arpaio’s investigative priorities. Perhaps the lawman’s thank-you note got lost in the mail.