Larkin and Lacey Criticize the Pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Last October in the state of Arizona, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton validated the presidential pardon of the former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Earlier that year, Arpaio was formally convicted for criminal contempt of court.

The conviction was filed in response to the longtime sheriff’s deliberate refusal to follow a court order, which stemmed from a 2007 lawsuit that was related to Arpaio’s racial profiling practices. The presidential pardon was issued only a few weeks before the former sheriff would have been sentenced.

Judge Bolton Formally Validates Arpaio Pardon

The formal validation of Trump’s pardon means that Arpaio walks away as a free man. The shocking pardon closes perhaps the final chapter in the long-running battle between Arpaio and two Phoenix journalists. 10 years prior to Arpaio’s pardon, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, co-owners of Phoenix New Times, were arrested by the sheriff. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: and

The paper had exposed many of Arpaio’s scandalous actions and covered them extensively during his six terms as sheriff. After the pardon, Michael Lacey offered his appraisal of Arpaio and Trump. Lacey said that the pardon was the “perfect marriage of two corrupt individuals,” adding that Arpaio had been a “sheriff who advertised torture and racism.”

However, Lacey does admit that despite his abhorrence for Arpaio, he can’t help but respect his political acumen. The sheriff had always been skilled at reading shifts in the political winds, perhaps even knowing that 2016 would be the end of his career and that his actions would soon catch up to him.

In early 2016, he endorsed Trump, and whether it was a calculated gamble or simply chance, that endorsement paid off for Arpaio. While he wasn’t able to secure a seventh term as sheriff, his endorsement of Trump got him a presidential pardon for his crimes.

The Rivalry Between Arpaio and the Press Turns Sour

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and, in retrospect, it almost seems obvious that the conflict between the Phoenix New Times and Arpaio. Jim Larkin notes, almost pridefully, that he and Lacey were a “constant thorn in his side.” Larkin went on to say that “I think that’s why Michael and I got arrested.”

After years of exposing Arpaio’s wrongdoings, he’d had enough of the Phoenix New Times. He proceeded to ban the publication from any of his press conferences, toss their requests for county records into the shredder, and even threaten their reporters with arrest. It all came to a head in October of 2007. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

On that fateful October night, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were subjected to a rude awakening as Arpaio’s goons came knocking, before hauling them away to one of Arpaio’s jails. Less than a day after this arrest, Andrew Thomas, a long-time ally of Arpaio, was forced to announce that the case had been closed and the arrests unlawful.

Lacey and Larkin were tired of Arpaio’s games and proceeded to file a lawsuit, walking away six years later with a $3.75 million settlement by the board of supervisors.

The Frontera Fund

Using the settlement that Maricopa County was forced to pay them after the Arpaio suit, Larkin and Lacey founded the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. The Frontera Fund is dedicated to aiding organizations throughout Arizona which promote the rights of migrants.

Additionally, the two journalists launched Front Page Confidential, a web-based publication which covers any present threats to the First Amendment and free speech.

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