Gov. Jan Brewer said the state’s budget crisis precludes her from even considering any intervention in current legal and personality clashes within the Maricopa County government.
Brewer told The Associated Press on Dec. 14 that she has not looked into whether she should or could intervene.
“I have been paying attention and I have been reading the newspaper and, you know, listening to television and hearing about it,” said Brewer. “Certainly I’ve got my hands full with what I’m facing here at the state level.”
Brewer, a Republican like most of the elected officials involved in the county’s current controversy, was a member of the Board of Supervisors before being elected secretary of state in 2002.
The East Valley Tribune called Dec. 10 for Brewer and state legislators to step in. “As distasteful and as difficult as it might be, the state must take responsibility for its biggest subdivision and take steps to restore public trust and confidence,” the Tribune said in an editorial.
The county’s troubles include lawsuits and other proceedings involving Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, the Board of Supervisors and county administrators.
Points of contention include criminal prosecutions of two supervisors, a sheriff’s investigation into a construction project, actions to rein in spending by the sheriff and lawsuits among county officials.
The dispute escalated last week when Thomas filed criminal charges against a judge in connection with the construction of a new court building.
Arizona governors rarely intervene in controversies involving local government or law enforcement matters not directly involving the state.
One instance occurred in the 1970s in connection with the car-bomb slaying of newspaper reporter Don Bolles. Then-Gov. Raul Castro pulled the prosecution of that case away from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and gave it then-Attorney General Bruce Babbitt when Babbitt complained that the county was mishandling it.