The “Bromney” Connection to Maricopa County, Arizona

For the “Bromney” catalog: the Bromney connection to Maricopa County, Arizona.

Maricopa County includes the city of Phoenix and it’s where Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas have teamed up to govern (if that’s the right word) on a venomously anti-immigrant platform: detaining and prosecuting undocumented immigrants, promoting punitive new immigration laws, and intimidating and harassing their political opponents.

First, to catch you up, it’s been a busy month in Maricopa. On May 10, the Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio. Among the charges: Arpaio’s office engages in racial profiling and punishes detainees for speaking Spanish in jail. Coincidentally, on the same day, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas was disbarred. A state ethics panel found that he had repeatedly filed malicious and unfounded criminal charges against his political enemies, and it denounced his behavior as “the public trust dishonored, desecrated and defiled.”

Now, back to the Bromneys and their Maricopa connections. Romney’s connection has been well established since 2008, when he selected Joe Arpaio as his Arizona campaign chairman and Joe returned the favor, describing Mitt as a “man of principle,” in part for Mitt’s approval of Arpaio’s “tent city” jail, where detained immigrants were forced to wear pink underwear. Romney’s statements on immigration this year en route to the Republican nomination may well earn him a second Arpaio endorsement.

Brown has a Maricopa connection to disbarred County Attorney Andrew Thomas. One of Thomas’s first legislative victories in Arizona was a law requiring voters to present identification in order to cast a ballot. After the law was passed, Thomas brought indictments against ten people, legal residents but non-citizens, charging them with fraudulently registering to vote. (One of the ten had been presented with a voter registration card at the time he registered with the Selective Service. Mistakenly, but understandably, he thought he was eligible.) Many people suspected that Thomas had manufactured the prosecutions in order to justify the need for the Voter ID law, a suspicion certainly bolstered by his later disbarment for bringing baseless criminal charges against his political enemies. Scott Brown, one of the earliest champions of Voter ID laws in this state, testified that voter fraud is an “increasingly serious concern.” His only evidence? The indictments by the now-disbarred County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

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