Considered by the mainstream news outlets to be an offbeat but ultimately benign character, Arpaio made several headlines in the Phoenix New Times, as Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin (executive editor and CEO of Village Voice Media respectively) made efforts to uncover the irregularities in his department and to expose Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Lacey and Larkin had a long-standing feud with Sheriff Arpaio, as they have published many reports on the mismanagement of his office, as well as articles about abuses of power.
Additionally, reports of mistreatment of jail inmates and racial profiling have been published in the Phoenix New Times, in order to draw the public’s attention towards the environment surrounding Arpaio. Speculations are that Arpaio grew frustrated with the articles.
In July of 2004, in the context of one of the reports about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s real estate dealings, his home address has been made public, which led to an investigation conducted by Maricopa County’s Attorney, who considered the action to be a possible crime according to the laws of Arizona state. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Crunchbase
The Village Voice Media was served with a subpoena, ordering them to produce all the documents they had that were related to the original article, as well as information about the traffic on their website. The subpoena required them to produce all the IP addresses of the visitors on their site since January 2004, as well as information about the traffic on articles that mentioned Joe Arpaio.
In October of 2007, Larkin and Lacey published the contents of the subpoena, which resulted in their arrest on October 18, the same day they released the information to the public. The two were handcuffed by armed deputies of the “Selective Enforcement Unit” and put in separate jails.
Their arrest resulted into a scandal and a public outcry, the two writers being ultiamtely released from jail in less than 24 hours, with all chargers against them being dropped. Their illegal detention was followed by a prolonged lawsuit, which focused on abuse of power and the First Amendment rights.
The court decided in favor of Larkin and Lacey, who were granted a settlement of $3.7 million, paid by Maricopa County in 2013.
The money was used to create Frontera Fund, an organization that fights for the civil rights of individuals, and distributes funds to nonprofit groups that act as advocates for the Hispanic community – who Larkin considers to be a deserving group, due to their determination to travel the desert to Arizona in order to gain an opportunity to work.
The initiative was also created in order to fight against Arapio’s nationalistic rhetoric, with the push against his rhetoric gaining more attention once he was charged with a misdemeanor in 2017.
Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: