Tuesday, February 23, 2010
We don't pay too much attention to Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, but we really should, given that he wants to take his nutty prosecutorial approach to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.
For anyone who really cares about the rule of law, Sarah Fenske of the Phoenix New Times has a must-read summary of how Thomas bends the law to indict and harass his political opponents:
It's funny, really, to think that Andrew Thomas still imagines he can get to the bottom of anything.
He's lost case after case: Virtually every indictment he's brought against another public official has resulted in dismissal or defeat. He's also lost most of his civil division — and, with it, the ability to hit up law firms seeking county work for campaign contributions. Perhaps as a result, his campaign for Arizona Attorney General is flagging. So far, he's been able to raise just $25,000.
And for all the sound and fury Thomas brought to his December filings against Donahoe and all the alleged "racketeers" in county government, the cases have had little legal success to date.
The county attorney wasn't subpoenaing records to get to the bottom of a credible allegation of wrongdoing. The office was subpoenaing records to see if they could luck into finding something wrong.
And, while they were at it, the expedition was surely a convenient way to derail Tom Irvine's probe into Thomas' conflicts — and to force the county to play ball on budget issues.
"Andrew Thomas and Joe Arpaio have shown that they are vindictive," says attorney Novak, "and they'll do whatever they can get away with to further their own interests."
The gambit didn't work, of course. Thomas still lost
his civil division. Arpaio still lost his budget battle. And right now, Thomas has painted himself so badly into a corner that he's been forced to ask the supervisors to let him help choose his replacement if he leaves office to run for attorney general. (Yeah, right, they scoff in reply.)
But the whole year of turmoil did do one thing.
It allowed Arpaio and Thomas to paint the county as hopelessly corrupt. It let them blame their own bad lawyering on ethically compromised judges. And it gave them a tool to tar the entire county administration without a shred of proof.
Forget the truth. For Andrew Thomas, it's one hell of a story.