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News Link • Immigration

Can Sheriff Joe Arpaio avoid fate of allies?

• AZCentral.Com

For the second time in 15 months, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio held a grim vigil on a Tuesday night as a seemingly invincible political ally suffered a stunning defeat.

This week it was Sen. Russell Pearce, who was recalled by his Mesa constituents.

A little more than a year ago, it was former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, defeated in the Republican primary for state attorney general.

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Both Republicans were linked to Arpaio through their work on illegal immigration. Thomas helped Arpaio with legal interpretations that allowed the sheriff to pursue undocumented immigrants as felons, while Pearce steered more than $1.6 million to the Sheriff's Office to fund the illegal-immigration fight.

Thomas and Arpaio also shared a special bond through their attempts to target county officials on corruption allegations in a series of investigations that disintegrated under legal scrutiny, resulting in millions of dollars in legal claims against the county, a federal criminal investigation and the potential disbarment of Thomas.

The question facing Arpaio is whether he is in jeopardy of losing his job in the sheriff's election next November, given that the hard-line stance on illegal immigration was part of Pearce's undoing and attacks on county officials helped end Thomas' political career.

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