The U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio sets a new low for the politicization of DOJ.
Neither President Nixon's Justice Department during the Watergate era nor the Bill Clinton-Janet Reno abuses of DOJ's power (e.g., summary firing of all U.S. attorneys, the invasion at Waco, Bill Lann Lee's Civil Rights Division activism) quite compares with the lengths to which Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez, and President Obama have gone to pursue a political vendetta.
Foremost to keep in mind regarding this misconduct: It's all about immigration politics.
The administration seems to regard the current immigration laws as unacceptable. So political officials have systematically refused to carry out the laws on the books. Consider the brazen federal lawsuits the Obama administration has brought against Arizona and several other states' laws dealing with illegal immigrants. They have been granting administrative amnesty to "DREAMers" and other illegal aliens who have committed crimes. They have ordered Border Patrol officers to "stand down" when they see illegals, manipulating the border apprehensions statistics to make it seem as if fewer illegals are entering. They have neutered the 287(g) program that was in such high demand among state and local police agencies when the administration came to office.
Now the administration is trying to make an example of Sheriff Arpaio, one of the toughest local law enforcement officials in the country and wildly popular in one of the country's toughest localities — where illegal immigration and its worst consequences intersect. He is a highly capable law officer with a highly effective department and a refreshing backbone for someone who campaigns for election, plus the courage to stand up to cold-blooded Mexican cartels and cold-blooded Washington-Chicago politicos alike. This is a vendetta because Obama administration officials have made it personal.
The Chicago-style, hardball politics entwined with the anti-Arpaio campaign include a carefully crafted plan of attack. First the administration pulled Maricopa County's 287(g) authority. Then Tom Perez, formerly on the board of the radical open-borders Casa de Maryland, issued a vicious Civil Rights Division report last December alleging all sorts of charges against Sheriff Arpaio and his department. The not too subtle claim: This white sheriff is mistreating and targeting Hispanics in the county jail. Never mind the overwhelming "political correctness" that the report manifested, making it more of a political screed reeking of racial politics. Not a huge surprise, with ACLU lawyers within DOJ ghostwriting much of the document. The deliberate confusion of law and politics has continued in this week's filing of the lawsuit.
The legal action comes after months of DOJ's demands that a federal nanny be given veto power to run the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Joe declined the unconstitutional demand. Thus, the politicized DOJ stuck a gun to the county sheriff's head: Our way or else. Sheriff Joe said "no", so he's now been slapped with "or else".
Sheriff Arpaio explained in the Washington Times, what was really going on:
"Every policy decision, every operation, every new program in the jails and in enforcement, virtually everything would have to be approved by the monitor, nullifying the authority of the elected sheriff and eviscerating the will of the citizens of Maricopa County," he said.
"I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected sheriff and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government", he said. "And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say, 'This will not happen, not on my watch.'"
Though it has become personal against "America's toughest sheriff", the ultimate goal here is to intimidate all other state and local law enforcement offices from vigorously assisting in enforcement of immigration laws. That's the same motivation for challenging the states' laws, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently all but laughed out the courtroom during oral arguments.
The other part of the administration's cynical motives is the desire to signal Latino voting blocs that the president is their political ally and he'd really like their vote in November (and with the administration attacking states' voter ID laws, unqualified foreigners may very well be able to steal votes). The open-borders radicals have lost heart with the administration for not pushing through an amnesty. The anti-Arpaio charade is a piece of that kiss-and-make-up campaign.