Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans to soon cost taxpayers over $200 million

Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans to soon cost taxpayers over $200 million
Photo via Gage Skidmore.

The total haul that Arizona taxpayers have been forced to shell out over Joe Arpaio's racist shenanigans as former Maricopa County sheriff will total over $200 million by next year, NBC News reports. Because the department under current sheriff Paul Penzone has been deemed close to—but not quite yet 100%—compliant with the court orders stemming from Arpaio's actions, officials have had to approve another $31 million until the department has been deemed fully abiding.

NBC News reports that the $31 million tentatively approved by local officials for the next fiscal year will bring the total cost that Arpaio has forced onto taxpayers to $202 million by 2022. "Taxpayers in Arizona's most populated county are on the hook for lawyer bills and the costs of complying with massive court-ordered overhauls of the sheriff's office after a 2013 verdict concluded Arpaio's officers had profiled Latinos in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants," the report said.

Arpaio, who was convicted in 2017 of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge's order to stop racially profiling Latino drivers, lost his reelection bid to Penzone just days after being charged but has continued to remain unrepentant, the NBC News report indicates. When pressed on the hundreds of millions of dollars he has cost taxpayers, the disgraced former sheriff pointed his finger at immigrants, because that's just what racists do.

"On Monday, Arpaio said he doesn't regret carrying out the immigration patrols and contends his crackdowns still helped reduce taxpayer costs for providing education and health care to immigrants in the United States illegally," the report said. Ah, sure. Even though it was Arpaio's choices that led to local taxpayers being slapped with a $200 million dollar bill that may very well keep rising, its undocumented immigrants who are actually the ones who caused the waste. Blame them, Arpaio wants us to know.

"It's a one-side type of story they (his critics) want to push out," NBC News reports Arpaio complained. "Don't blame me for the money being spent." But, to loosely paraphrase Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson yelling at Joan Crawford as Blanche Hudson in the classic movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but it is, Joe, it is your fault!

The Associated Press reported last year that the $32 million approved for the current fiscal year made it the most expensive year in the case to date. In total, tens of millions have gone to independent officials monitoring the department and legal fees (Arpaio, of course, is on the hook for none of it), and other money going to hiring qualified staff, equipment, and training on how not to be a racist stormtrooper. Arpaio in the AP report again blamed someone else for his action's astronomical costs, but this time the judge who ordered the overhaul of his department.

Arpaio belonged in jail for the untold suffering he inflicted on immigrants and people of color in Maricopa County for years—he himself referred to his infamous tent city as a "concentration camp"—but was spared punishment following a pardon from the twice-impeached former president. At least a federal judge last year refused to also throw out his guilty verdict, so there's that. Verdict or no verdict, he's a guilt mfer.

Noemi Romero, one of the countless undocumented immigrants rounded up in Arpaio's terrorizing workplace raids, wondered in 2017 where her pardon was. "[O]ne day right before my lunch break, Arpaio's Sheriff's entered the store," she wrote in a diary here on Daily Kos. "They weren't looking for me but that didn't stop them from interrogating me, arresting me, and keeping me in their jail for sixty days while I awaited a trial that resulted in me being convicted of a felony and turned over to immigration agents for deportation. Because of a local group, Puente Arizona, and the work of my community I'm still here. But because of Arpaio's profiling and campaign against our families I have this extra mark against me now."

Community advisory board member Raul Piña told NBC News that while the costs are painful, they are necessary to preserve the rights and dignity of people who have spent years being targeted in Maricopa County. And he's right—injustice must be corrected. "Of course, we are tired of paying, but if you are a Hispanic vehicle operator, you are tired of being racially profiled at the same time—and the agency isn't in a rush to stop that," he said in the report.

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