Monday, May 16, 2011

Is Maricopa County Nuts? Consider the Evidence

According to a report at AZCentral, Maricopa County, AZ's Board of Supervisors is considering allocating more dough to former County Attorney Andrew Thomas to defend himself over ethics allegations thus calling into question their collective sanity. 

Thomas, (Sheriff Joe Arpaio's legal water carrier) spent nearly all of the $100,000 previously budgeted to him to pay for his defense.  This astounding story is by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (<---hmmmmm, new married name?) which follows in excerpt:

"Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has spent a large portion of $100,000 in public funds earmarked for his defense against a State Bar of Arizona ethics complaint, prompting discussion among county officials about whether to allocate more. Public records show Thomas has spent about $86,000, and no hearing date has yet been set.

[Former County Attorney Thomas] was [ . . . ] charged with multiple ethics violations after a lengthy investigation into his political and legal fights with the county Board of Supervisors, judges and other officials. The state Bar, which licenses and polices attorneys, accused Thomas and two former deputies of having conflicts of interest and filing criminal and civil cases without probable cause or sufficient evidence.

Days after Thomas was charged, the county Board of Supervisors approved a $100,000 budget to defend him against the charges despite its sharp political and legal differences with him. [ . . . ]  Now that Thomas has nearly exhausted the amount set in the initial budget, the Board of Supervisors is unsure how to proceed.
[ . . . ] Don Wilson, Thomas' attorney, said his client 'is entitled to a meaningful defense, and we remain hopeful the board will do the right thing.'
'As one person that witnessed his offensive behavior so directly, it makes it hard to give him anything,' [according to the Board of Supervisor Chair.]  'I don't know how he can defend his actions. That being said, we defend the professional licenses of a number of people. You'll never be able to capture my disdain for doing this.'

County officials said it is unclear if the county is legally obligated to continue paying for Thomas' representation given the Bar investigation that found he acted unethically.  But Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for Montgomery, said the office has historically provided defense for attorneys facing disciplinary hearings."
Completely outrageous!  This lawyer conceived and participated in the ransacking of Maricopa County's coffers to fund baseless political prosecutions at the behest of his dark master, Joe Arpaio.  Thomas' actions were so offensive that the notion that the taxpayers are on the hook to defend his license defiess common sense.  Thomas quit the Maricopa County post, ostensibly, to run for Arizona Attorney General.  He lost.

What a sweet deal, you the lawyer commit unethical acts prohibited by your profession and oath, but the taxpayers will pony up to defend you!  Is that nuts?

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