Thursday, April 19, 2018

FACT CHECK - FIRST ON AZ'S POLITICS: Arpaio Still Claims Mexican Drug Cartels Put $1M Bounty On His Head; He Exaggerated And His Deputies Promptly Gave Up On Investigating Claim (READ, INCIDENT REPORT)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues to claim that "the Mexican drug cartels put a $1 Million bounty on my head!" However, he and his spokeswoman exaggerated the story to a TV reporter and his own MCSO detectives quickly gave up on investigating the claim.

Arpaio made the unverified claim in a fundraising email yesterday, as evidence of how tough his Department had been on "violent drug dealers, callous human traffickers, and thousands of criminal gang members that were here illegally".

When then-MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen initially divulged the "threat" to a Fox 10 reporter in 2010, she indicated that the FBI had forwarded it to them, that it had been posted on the internet, and that we had to take it "credibly because, you know, he's such a lightning rod, and so many people don't like him because of his stance on this issue." That gave the then-Sheriff the opportunity to shrug it off on camera with a joke about how bad the Mexican economy must be because previous bounties had been $5M.

"I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "It doesn't matter to me," the Associated Press report quoted him telling the TV reporter.

A public records request by Arizona's Politics reveals that much of the information fed to the reporter was false. The threat not only was simply a supposedly-viral, untraceable text message in August 2010, it also put a $10,000 bounty on ANY American. The report does not indicate that the FBI was involved in bringing it to the MCSO's attention - something that would certainly be included in the report. 

And, based on Arpaio's comments to the local Fox reporter, the 2nd half of the "threat" was not important for the public to know. (By the way, the FBI tip was not assigned to a Deputy until 1-2 days after Allen and Arpaio went public and said it was being investigated.)

The incident report (below) also shows that the extent of the investigation was finding out that the "several" recipients did not know where the messages came from, that the numbers appeared as either "restricted" or from outside the U.S. The message itself listed a Mexican phone number - however, it did not match any numbers in the Drug Enforcement Agency's database.

The simple report leaves "this case (is) open pending further investigation." However, the MCSO confirmed to Arizona's Politics that "a search of MCSO records...was not able to find any additional supplemental reports to this case." A followup conversation with an MCSO detective in the current threats unit also yielded no update.

Arpaio's Senate campaign has declined repeated requests to provide any supporting documentation for the claim. And, in fact, yesterday's fundraising email (below) repeated it after learning that Arizona's Politics was researching it.

This - and, many other - fundraising email helped Arpaio raise slightly more than $500,000 for his campaign to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

(Arpaio email, 4/18/18)
As Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, my officers and I locked up violent drug dealers, callous human traffickers, and thousands of criminal gang members that were here illegally. In fact, I was so effective that at one point the Mexican drug cartels put a $1 Million bounty on my head! 

It is clear to me, as I know it is to you, that our nation has an illegal immigration problem. 

But, MItch, this will not be solved over night, nor is it going to be solved by just one action. It's going to take many different actions, but one I feel strongly about is and I know President Trump agrees with me on is building a wall. 

I want to know what you think. Do you support building a wall? 

Please let me know by clicking on the link above and filling out my one question survey. 

MItch, we are at a crossroads for our nation's history and I want to know what side you are on. 

Please fill out my survey right away, and if you agree with me that building a wall is a critical step we need to take in solving our nation's illegal immigration problem, then please stand with my campaign by making a much needed financial contribution. 

I need your support and President Trump needs my vote. 

You have supported me in previous endeavors, and I hope and pray that I will have your continued support today. 

I need your support and President Trump needs my vote. 

Sheriff Joe Arpaio 

P.S. Let me know if you support building a wall by clicking on the graphic immediately. Thanks. 


Thanks to Brian Reilly and Paul Weich, who contributed reporting for this article. Part of a continuing series.

If you would like to show your appreciation for Arizona's Politics reporting, please consider donating to our pool to support OTHER journalism-related nonprofits. 

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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