DOJ Sues Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial leading law enforcement officer in Maricopa County, has been delaying a Department of Justice investigation over alleged civil rights abuses by refusing to hand over documents to federal investigators. The investigation started in March 2009, but the DOJ issued an ultimatum Aug. 3, telling Arpaio he needed to cooperate by Aug. 17 or would be sued.
Arpaio still hasn’t handed over the documents, and the lawyers at Justice must have been sick of waiting — the DOJ filed a suit against the sheriff this morning.
The investigation — and ensuing lawsuit — could have serious consequences for Maricopa County. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, programs that receive federal funds cannot discriminate. If Arpaio’s immigration sweeps are determined to be discriminatory against Latinos, the county could lose some federal funding, the Arizona Republic reported:
The sheriff’s failure to cooperate could cost the county millions of dollars of federal funding. Last year, the county received $113 million in federal funds, according to county records; of that, the Sheriff’s Office received $3.8 million. County officials must agree that they will not discriminate in order to receive those funds. [...]
Last year, the nearly $113 million that the county received from the federal government accounted for about 5 percent of the county’s $2 billion budget. Arpaio’s office said it receives $3 million to $4 million each year in federal funds.
Authorities in Arizona are now facing three separate lawsuits from the Justice Department related to immigration. Along with the lawsuit against Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law, the department filed a suit Monday alleging discriminatory hiring practices by Phoenix-area Maricopa Community Colleges.