Continued from page 1

Arpaio denies wrongdoing and dismisses the case as a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration.

Arpaio’s office is accused of punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish and launching some patrols based on complaints that never reported a crime but conveyed concerns about dark-skinned people congregating or speaking Spanish.

The lawsuit also says that Arpaio’s office has virtually no policies or procedures designed to prevent or address discriminatory policing, and has no system in place to track any alleged misconduct by deputies during traffic stops, arrests or complaints.

State Sen. Steve Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat, said the lawsuit eventually will shed light on corruption within the sheriff’s office.

“It forces Arpaio to go into a courtroom and explain a lot of these accusations,” Gallardo said. “You’re going to see the true Sheriff Joe Arpaio.”

Gallardo said that it may take a few years, but “at the end of the day, once the public sees the truth … I think the public will give a big thumbs down to Sheriff Joe.”

Antonio Bustamante, a Phoenix civil rights attorney and critic of the sheriff’s immigration enforcement, said that “there’s a big swath of voters that this will not sway at all,” calling much of the voting public in Arpaio’s jurisdiction racist and ignorant.

“People come (to Arizona) from other places and want to make it like Kansas or Nebraska,” said Bustamante, who said he’s a fourth-generation Arizonan whose ancestors came from Mexico. “A lot of those folks look upon us as the outsiders, and we’ve been here for generations. And we settled the state and were the pioneers of this state.”

The most recent reliable poll asking voters how they feel about Arpaio — conducted by the nonpartisan Behavior Research Center — showed that 41 percent of the 700 people asked thought he was doing an excellent or good job. Thirty-three percent thought he was doing a poor job and 19 percent said he was doing a fair job, according to the poll, conducted in April last year.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Arpaio has had no problem with fundraising, garnering more than $1.1 million in the past year. The majority of those contributions came from people living outside the state, with 2,700 donations alone coming from California, compared to 2,500 from Arizona.

Donors in Texas, Florida and Washington also made a substantial number of donations to the campaign.

Records show that Arpaio’s re-election committee had $3.4 million on hand as of Dec. 31, the most recent figure available. More updated figures will not be released until June or July.

Justice officials would like Arpaio’s office to seek training in constitutional policing and dealing with jail inmates with limited English skills, collect data on traffic stops and immigration enforcement, and establish a comprehensive disciplinary system that permits the public to make complaints against officers without fear of retaliation.

Separate from the Justice Department’s allegations, a lawsuit that alleges that Arpaio’s deputies racially profiled Latinos in immigration patrols is scheduled for a July 19 trial in federal court.

Story Continues →