Monday, December 8, 2008

Fallout from the Stapley Indictment

One of the biggest stories while I was out last week was the 118 count indictment of Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley. Stapley has been Mesa's representative on the Board of Supervisors since 1993 and has been an oft-mentioned candidate for Congress (in fact, remember when he has the US Capitol on his campaign signs a few years back?).

The indictment was brought down by County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week with the large majority of the counts coming from a failure to report business dealings and land ownership. The rift has widened with the Board of Supervisors asking for their own legal representation, Stapley's case being assigned to an anti-Thomas judge, and the thought that Thomas and Arpaio may be stretching the seriousness of the offense.

First, I tend to agree that 118 indictment counts appears to be a tad excessive. Also, wouldn't you at least notify the guy about the issues before dropping such a bomb on him? After all, if these truly are disclosure issues, isn't the goal here to have his dealings disclosed publicly?

As Robb says in his article, there is a penalty for offenses like this, but they are misdemeanors with a financial punishment.

The fact is, only one or two of the 118 counts are probably going to stick, and that is likely all its going to take to get him off the board. Even if he does survive, the damage is done. Look at Sandra Dowling or Kevin Ross. An impression of impropriety is enough to taint an elected official for a long time. I agree with the Tribune, that we should let the facts play out, but I don't quite get their stance on freezing his salary.

The story is getting even stranger, as it turns out, as I have had a few people tell me stories about stakeouts and undercover cars following Stapley and members of his family. What exactly are they looking for? Are they worried that he is going to skip town? How much taxpayer money is being devoted to this task?

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