O'Reilly hosts Arpaio apologist, doesn't mention her ties to him -- or that she's under investigation
Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL
On Wednesday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly hosted Rachel Alexander to discuss a "threatened lawsuit" by federal officials against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio regarding his treatment of undocumented immigrants. Alexander denounced the federal investigation into Arpaio as politically motivated because "the Obama administration is liberal, and ... has a contrary opinion to the citizens of Arizona when it comes to arresting illegal immigrants."
O'Reilly identified Alexander only as a former deputy attorney in Maricopa County. In fact, she's a lot more than that: She's a longtime apologist for Arpaio who's currently under investigation by the Arizona bar.
As the Arizona Republic reported, Alexander, her former boss, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and another staffer are being investigated by the bar after a judge ruled that Thomas acted unethically in the prosecution of a Maricopa County supervisor. Earlier this month, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to stop the investigation.
When Alexander joined the Maricopa County Attorney's office in 2005, the Phoenix New Times called it a "clear signal" that the office "will no longer do battle with" Arpaio (Thomas had recently replaced a county attorney had a more combative relationship with Arpaio). After all, back in 2002, Alexander co-wrote an article purporting to explain "What's Really Happening in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Jail," which concluded that "Accusations that Arpaio is a publicity hound are misplaced" and that "Arpaio generates publicity because he implements innovative programs that save taxpayers money and deter criminal behavior. If he was a passive sheriff who simply coddled inmates and gave them their cable television and pornography, so there weren't any complaints, he wouldn't make news."
Meanwhile, the libertarian Reason magazine described Alexander's former boss Thomas as "Sheriff Joe's Enabler," a personable man who "brings all of Arpaio's nuttery, with none of Arpaio's scowl." Reason also points out that Thomas "may actually be more dangerous" than Arpaio because he has shown a willingness to use "criminal charges -- or the threat of them -- to silence political opponents." (Thomas resigned his job in April to run for Arizona attorney general.)
One case in which that has been alleged was mentioned by Alexander on The O'Reilly Factor. Alexander said that the chairman of the county board of supervisors, with which Arpaio has been "feuding," Don Stapley, "raised $70,000 in campaign contributions to run for an election where he had no opponent, then he went and spent those fund on luxury items for himself." When O'Reilly asked why that was a county investigation rather than a state investigation, Alexander stammered and cited "political reasons" for it. (This is not the county supervisor involved in the investigation of Alexander.)
The real story is much more interesting. As Talking Points Memo reported last October, the charges against Stapley appear to be part of the feud between Arpaio and Thomas and the county supervisors; Stapley had reportedly antagonized Thomas by placing auditors in Arpaio's office to monitor spending and by challenging Thomas's practice of hiring outside lawyers, who also happened to be Thomas's political backers, to do legal work for the county. Arpaio also ordered a high-profile arrest of Stapley despite the fact that, according to TPM, it was a white-collar case where the target of the arrest was neither a flight risk nor in the process of committing a crime.
But Arpaio couldn't find a prosecutor to take the case; Thomas's involvement would have raised conflict-of-interest concerns. This apparently led to the hiring of two high-powered, Washington-based Republican lawyers, Joseph DiGenova and Victoria Toensing, as special prosecutors for the case and two others, for the hefty fee of $295 an hour for out-of-court fees, and $475 an hour for in-court fees. County supervisors raised objections to the hiring of DiGenova and Toensing, noting among other things that the two don't live in the area, "as required by applicable statute."
O'Reilly should have mentioned just how close Alexander is to Arpaio, the investigation into her behavior as deputy attorney, or at least had on a dissenting voice. Fair and balanced and all that.