By Kay Daly August 19, 2010 7:15 AM
Eric Holder is coming after Sheriff Joe Arpaio, claiming he is not "cooperating" in a federal investigation. Clearly Holder wants to nail Joe's hide to the wall for going after illegal aliens. Like we couldn't see this coming.
Here is the crux of the catfight:
Once seen as a quirky figure who has inmates dress in pink underwear and forces them to work on chain gangs, Arpaio has in recent years become a kind of folk hero to those who favor his heavily publicized "crime sweeps," conducted mostly in Hispanic neighborhoods. But civil rights groups accuse the 78-year-old lawman of racial profiling. And some Maricopa County officials say Arpaio has begun meritless corruption investigations of officials who have criticized his policies or opposed his requests.
Those allegations are at the core of the Justice Department investigations, according to documents, lawyers familiar with the inquiries, and people who have been questioned by FBI agents and the grand jury.
The investigations reflect the tangled politics surrounding the immigration debate. The criminal probe is led by Dennis K. Burke, the U.S. attorney in Phoenix who was a top aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Two of Arpaio's attorneys, Robert N. Driscoll and Asheesh Agarwal, were officials in the Justice Department's civil rights division in the George W. Bush administration. They denied that the sheriff, a Republican who has been reelected four times since 1992, has been uncooperative or has engaged in racial profiling, misusing money or targeting political enemies.
"The sheriff's office is cooperating fully with the grand jury investigation and has complete confidence that the inquiry will clear it of any wrongdoing," Agarwal said. "The office has always fulfilled its responsibilities truthfully, honorably, and in full compliance with state and federal law."
Arpaio's attorneys contend that the investigations are politically motivated, citing a news conference in March at which Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was quoted as saying he expects the inquiries to "produce results."
"While we have no quarrel with the assistant U.S. attorneys handling the investigation, the attorney general's comments appear to violate federal regulations, departmental policy and state ethical rules designed to ensure the fairness of criminal investigations," Agarwal said.
Brewer and her supporters have also asserted that the Justice Department was politically motivated in its lawsuit over the state law, which authorizes, among other things, police officers to ask about the status of people suspected of being in the country illegally. A federal judge last month stopped the most controversial sections of the legislation from taking effect.
For the record.....my money is on Sheriff Joe. Even if Holder comes down hard with the full power of the federal government, he still loses. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is getting the job done and Eric Holder isn't. 'Nuff said.