Monday, March 14, 2011

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Pays $77,000 Fine For Illegal Campaign Mailer In County Attorney Race

(Update 7:40pm: Confirmed by Willems that the amount paid by Arpaio campaign is the $76,989.50 assessed by the ALJ.)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's campaign announced late this afternoon that it has settled the illegal campaign contribution case against it by paying the assessed fine.  An administrative law judge last month found that a mailer sent by Arpaio's campaign committee was an illegal in-kind contribution to (successful) Maricopa County Attorney candidate Bill Montgomery rather than an expenditure to promote Arpaio's re-election in 2012.  The ALJ fined Arpaio $76,989.50 - the midpoint between a $1 fine and the maximum three times the expenditure.

The settlement comes two days before County Elections Director Karen Osborne was required to accept, modify or reject the ALJ's determination.  According to the press release sent out by Arpaio's campaign manager Chad Willems, the Sheriff's campaign committee continued to admit no wrong-doing.  The amount of the settlement is the full amount of the fine assessed by the ALJ, according to Willems.  The text of the release is included below the jump.

Arpaio's 2012 re-election campaign had acknowledged that it had spent more than $50,000 on the mailer that was the subject of the complaint by former County Attorney Rick Romley.  The administrative law judge rejected Arpaio's contentions that the mailer was constitutionally-protected speech.  Arpaio's committee also spent several hundred thousand dollars on television commercials which supported Montgomery and attacked Romley.

Text of Arpaio news release:

Arpaio Campaign Settles Dispute with County Elections Department

PHOENIX, AZ – The campaign to Re-Elect Joe Arpaio 2012 released the following statement today:

The reelection campaign for Sheriff Joe Arpaio has settled its dispute with the Maricopa County

Department of Elections arising over Arpaio’s campaign activities during the 2010 election cycle.

“While we strongly disagree with the actions the county elections department took in this matter, and

the decision by the Administrative Law Judge, the Arpaio campaign feels it is in the best interests of

both parties to settle this dispute and move forward. A legal appeal could prove costly to both the

campaign and the taxpayers of Maricopa County”, stated Chad Willems, Arpaio’s campaign manger.

He continued, “The agreement between the parties clearly states that the Arpaio campaign admits no

wrongdoing. We believe both parties would like to put this matter behind them and go about

conducting the business of Maricopa County government.”

The Maricopa County Department of Elections sought more than $150,000 in fines for a mailer Arpaio

sent during last year’s primary, urging voters to support Sheriff Joe’s reelection campaign. That fine

was cut in half, to $76,000, by the administrative judge that heard the case.

Sheriff Arpaio requests the fine be used to fight animal abuse.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has served as the Maricopa County Sheriff since 1993 and is currently planning on

running for office again. He has already raised more than $5 million for his next campaign.

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