Click to play video Terry Greene Sterling on the people in her book 'Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone'


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Questions swirl around Ariz. sheriffs and immigration crackdowns
Questions swirl around Ariz. sheriffs and immigration crackdowns

ARIZONA JOURNALISTS RAISE EVEN MORE TROUBLING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ADMINISTRATIONS OF MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO AND HIS NEIGHBOR AND ALLY, PINAL COUNTY SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, AND A SUSPICIOUS DEPUTY SHOOTING THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A HOAX

Two close political allies who’ve made names for themselves as lawmen protecting Arizonans from perceived misdeeds of “illegal aliens” are now facing increased scrutiny from reporters and public officials.

This week, the Maricopa County Board of  Supervisors, which oversees funding for the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio,  learned that an internal audit of the sheriff’s office indicates that the sheriff may have misspent up to $80 million in the past five years. According to The Arizona Republic, the  auditors allege that the sheriff’s administration kept two sets of books, which allowed it to secretly take  money from one untouchable fund and funnel it into those well-publicized immigration enforcement activities. (Read, raids.)  Of course, the board, which has felt the wrath of Sheriff Joe, turned its findings over to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is conducting two ongoing investigations of the sheriff’s administration that may lead to the indictment of Sheriff Joe himself.

Sheriff Joe isn’t the only guy who’s being scrutinized.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, the former boarding school principal turned anti-migrant lawman, first grew famous by walking along the “dang fence” in John McCain’s primary-campaign television ad. Then Babeu (he likes to call himself “Sheriff Paul” just as Arpaio is known as Sheriff Joe guested on a white-supremacy show and a conspiracy theory show. ) Sheriff Paul blamed his appearances on the radio shows on a bumbling aide, and the McCain camp did not pull either the dang fence ad or Sheriff Paul’s endorsement.

For months, Sheriff Paul has stood behind his deputy, who claimed he was shot by AK-47 toting Sinaloan narcos.  Despite a massive search, the narcos were never found. Nor was the massive load of pot they were supposed to be carrying. And the deputy who claimed he was shot by the narcos suffered a grazing wound that experts now say was shot at close range. You can thank Paul Rubin, of the Phoenix New Times, for having the fine good sense to send a picture of the deputy’s wound to forensic experts.

In short, lawmen, forensic experts and newspaper reporters have all questioned whether the deputy’s shooting was a hoax.

Was it intended to further terrify Arizonans already terrified by false reports that an Arizona rancher was definatively shot by an “illegal alien?”

That rancher murder, which spurred the passage of SB 1070, is actually unsolved.

Babeu’s office said the deputy’s shooting was not a hoax. It was the real deal, Babeu said.

Now Sheriff Paul,  incredibly, is investigating the alleged crimes at Sheriff  Joe’s office.