DOJ Shuts Books on Joe Arpaio Investigation, Civil Suits Go On

DOJ Shuts Books on Joe Arpaio Investigation, Civil Suits Go On


On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that it was closing the criminal investigation of the ever controversial Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio. The case that was closed last week involved financial improprieties and abuse of power. Closing the books on this particular criminal investigation does not mean that the legal woes of the Maricopa County Sheriff are over.

CNN reported that the investigation that was closed on Friday was separate from the federal civil rights law suit accusing Sheriff Arpaio’s office of racial profiling. In May, the Department of Justice filed suit against Sheriff Arpaio’s office for discriminatory practices and violating constitutional rights. The civil rights law suit does not yet have a trial date.

Arpaio is also the subject of a few different civil suits. One is a class action suit that shows the agency acting beyond the bounds of its authority, and another involving two newspaper executives for the Phoenix New Times who were arrested in their homes in 2007 after their paper reported that the sheriff’s office planned to use it subpoena power to determine who was communicating with journalists about Arpaio. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules last week that the newspaper executives can proceed with their suit against Arpaio.

Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement on Friday in response to the Justice Department’s announcement:

“It is a miscarriage of justice that the federal government is dropping its case against Sheriff Arpaio and to make such an announcement on the Friday night before the Democratic National Convention can only be politically motivated to shield the Administration from criticism. The evidence that Arpaio has abused his power and abused the immigrant community is absolutely clear.  Now it is evident he is also bullying Eric Holder and the President of the United States.”

Arpaio is up for re-election in November. The 80 year old Sheriff remains popular despite this legal woes although a poll from early August showed that his approval rating had dropped to 53 percent after the revelations that his office was investigating President Obama’s birth certificate. As the legal battles continue to become more drawn out, it will be interesting to see if the voting public in Maricopa County will continue to support a man who may be spending so much time on his own defense.