Politically motivated prosecutions are always an ugly business because politics is not supposed to stretch into the courtroom. Sadly, that appears to be news to the very liberal State Bar of Arizona. On Monday, the State Bar of Arizona began its prosecution of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and two of his deputies, including Right Wing News blogger Rachel Alexander.
As County Attorney, Thomas represented Sheriff Joe Arpaio and he worked with Arizona’s conservative legislature, notably Senator Russell Pearce, sponsor of Arizona’s SB 1070, to get tough laws against illegal immigration passed. In 2006, four bills were referred to the ballot and passed into law against illegal immigration, passing with over 70% margins. One of them, Prop. 100, prohibited bail for illegal immigrants charged with felonies. It passed with 78% of the vote. After passage, Thomas began hearing from prosecutors in the office that judges were ignoring Prop. 100 and not enforcing it. Most of the Superior Court judges are extremely liberal, having been appointed by former Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano. Thomas resorted to legal action to get the Superior Court to enforce Prop. 100. He had to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court to get the lower courts to enforce Prop. 100.
Thomas came up with a unique way to prosecute illegal immigrants with a felony, instead of just letting them go with a slap on the wrist. He used a felony smuggling statute to prosecute them, describing them as “smuggling themselves.” With a felony conviction, they would be required to serve time and would not be able to return to the U.S. He even distributed money — which was seized from racketeering funds — to programs for youth run by the Boy Scouts and churches. By law, that money is to be distributed to organizations that keep youth away from crime and drugs. Thomas ensured that it was no longer only distributed to left wing politically correct organizations. Due to the proactive efforts of Thomas, along with Joe Arpaio and Senator Russell Pearce, illegal immigration has greatly decreased in Arizona. The population of illegal immigrants dropped by one-third over two years.
Thomas ran for re-election in 2008 on a platform of stamping out public corruption with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Together they decided to take on powerful politicians who had gotten away with corrupt acts for years. Don Stapley, the Chairman of the County Supervisors, raised thousands of dollars to run for president of the National Association of Counties, even though he did not have an opponent. He then spent that money on personal luxury items. Stapley allegedly spent $6000 of these funds at Bang and Olufsen electronics, along with $1300 for hair implants, $400 for candleholders and $10,000 for furniture for his home. He also spent these funds, solicited as campaign money, to buy tickets to Broadway plays and movie theatres. He bought flowers, paid the grocery store and department stores, paid for massages – and paid for family trips to Sundance, to Utah to ski, a trip for his son and friends to Florida and a three-week vacation in Hawaii for his entire family at a beach house costing approximately $11,000.
Thomas brought charges against Stapley and a jury indicted him. Stapley was also indicted for failing to disclose his real estate dealings on financial statements. His business partner, Conley Wolfswinkel, is a convicted felon. Thomas also brought charges against Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. She was indicted for voting on giving money to Chicanos por la Causa while failing to disclose she had a sweetheart loan deal from them. Wilcox, who drives a 2006 Corvette, gave herself prime real estate territory at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport through the “minority-owned business” affirmative action program.
What happened to those indictments? They were all dismissed. Most of the prosecutions were conveniently transferred to now retired judges — Judge Kenneth Fields and Judge Gary Donahoe, who threw them all out. Donahoe was subsequently forced to resign in disgrace in June of this year. Realizing he could not get anywhere against the corruption in Superior Court, Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio filed a racketeering lawsuit against the supervisors, judges and their legal counsel. The supervisors refused to authorize any outside counsel to assist Thomas with it. Vastly understaffed, Thomas decided to turn the investigation over to the Department of Justice and withdrew the suit. As a result, the bar is now attempting to disbar Thomas, one of his prosecutors, and suspend Rachel Alexander’s license.
Thomas’s chief prosecutor, Lisa Aubuchon, who did the substantive work on most of the pleadings, is a lifelong experienced government prosecutor. The Bar is also prosecuting Rachel Alexander, whose only role was taking over the racketeering case briefly and then dropping it. Her Supervisor Peter Spaw had a much larger role in the racketeering case than Alexander did. Yet Spaw has not been charged by the Bar. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than Rachel Alexander is being selectively prosecuted because she’s a conservative political columnist and blogger who’s well known in her area for her political activism.
Many well-respected attorneys who attempted to represent Thomas and Aubuchon were shut out by the County Supervisors. They were so outraged they took out a full-page ad in the Arizona State Bar magazine letting all attorneys in the state know what the Bar was doing. The letter states that five experts found the bar complaints to be without merit. Those experts include a former Arizona State Bar president, a former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice, and a former Arizona Attorney General. When former Bar President Ernie Calderon, a Democrat, attempted to represent Thomas last year, he was punished by the Bar by having his position as Arizona’s representative to the ABA House of Delegates revoked.
Maybe it’s just me, but when the guy who helped draft the model ABA rules on ethics says your ethics charges are without merit, it should get people’s attention. Moreover, in the words of our President, let’s be clear about what’s going on here. If Thomas, Aubuchon, and Alexander were liberal, if they’d gone along to get along, or if they’d had no success in what they were doing, it’s extremely unlikely that they’d be facing any charges today. The truth of the matter is that these conservatives, including Rachel Alexander, appear to be on trial because they helped expose corruption in Arizona and effectively fought against illegal immigration, which made the liberals who control the state bar angry.
In fact, this unjust prosecution is so over-the-top that even the Maricopa County Republican Party’s Executive Guidance Committee has taken the unusual step of issuing a resolution denouncing it.
WHEREAS, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have been leaders in the fight to crack down on illegal immigration, taking on activist judges who tried to thwart Proposition 100 (no bail for illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes), and investigating corruption at the county level;
WHEREAS, in a politically motivated move due to its opposition to Arpaio’s and Thomas’s policies, the State Bar of Arizona, which is under the control of liberal attorneys and criminal defense attorneys, is attempting to take the license to practice law from Andrew Thomas, one of his former prosecutors Lisa Aubuchon, and discipline a third former prosecutor, Rachel Alexander;
WHEREAS, even a columnist for the liberal Arizona Republic, Robert Robb, has denounced the Bar’s investigation, writing about the Bar’s investigation, “Many of the alleged ethical violations are grounded in the claim that Thomas acted in bad faith for political retaliation. I doubt the evidence will clearly establish that.”
WHEREAS, the State Bar of Arizona has a history of refusing to take action against those who agree with their political philosophy;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Maricopa County Republican Executive Guidance Committee that it demand the State Bar drop the baseless and politically motivated investigation into Andrew Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.
FURTHER, we, the members of the Maricopa County Republican Executive Guidance Committee, commend Andrew Thomas for his efforts as County Attorney combating illegal immigration and corruption;
ADDITIONALLY, we, the members of the Maricopa County Republican Executive Guidance Committee, demand that the State Bar refrain from any future politically motivated investigations of attorneys due to its inherent left wing bias.
“Andy was trying to do the right thing by rooting out corruption, and the state Bar – typical of state and national Bars of lawyers – are very left-wing…A lot of the conservative lawyers are just so fed up with the Bar associations that they no longer care to be a part of them.”
This is nothing but a trumped-up, meritless witch hunt and it is particularly galling to see Rachel Alexander dragged into it since she was a minor player in the legal proceedings. Unfortunately, her blogging has long since made her a juicy political target in Maricopa County. In other words, Rachel Alexander’s inclusion despite her tangential involvement in the issue appears to be little more than a shot across the bow of conservative bloggers. The message is, “If you’re a conservative and stick your head up high to let people know where you stand politically, no matter how far we have to reach, we’ll find a way to drag you through the mud.”
Blogging while conservative is not a crime. Fighting against illegal immigration and corruption is not a crime. However, misusing the justice system for purely political purposes is absolutely despicable and the more sunlight that shines in on this issue in Arizona, the more the cockroaches who are persecuting conservatives will start to scatter.