The U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Terry Goddard are both looking into possible criminal charges involving campaign finance violations by a Maricopa County sheriff’s captain and the fundraising group he created in 2008.
Goddard on April 5 said he couldn’t discuss the details because the case was still open, but he confirmed his office was involved in an ongoing investigation into Capt. Joel Fox and the group known as SCA.
A federal grand jury that is investigating abuse of power allegations against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has also expanded its probe to include SCA, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
“The fact also now is the county says they’ve given these files to the feds. And so if it’s out of the hands of the county attorney and the Sheriff’s Office, and sitting in somebody’s desk in Washington now, it’s a somewhat different matter,” said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and did not want to be named.
Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne sent a letter in September to County Attorney Andrew Thomas, saying she had reason to believe that campaign finance violations committed by Fox and other SCA donors may warrant criminal charges. Fox, several high-ranking MCSO officials and others donated $105,000 to SCA in 2008, which contributed the money to the Arizona Republican Party to finance attack ads against Dan Saban, who was running against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Tim Nelson, who was challenging Thomas.
“It was an egregious violation, not only the tremendous amount of money but that fact that it was targeted at individuals, and at that particular point in time when it happened the law was adverse to corporate money being used in that fashion,” Osborne told the Arizona Capitol Times.
Thomas said he had forwarded the information to Goddard, despite the fact that Osborne’s letter was sent to him, because the attorney general was already investigating Fox and SCA.
“He was already doing an investigation,” Thomas said. “I trusted and hoped that he would do a legitimate investigation. I don’t know if he has or not. But typically, law enforcement agencies work together so they’re not duplicating investigations.”
Osborne said she has not been contacted by the Attorney General’s Office, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office or any other law enforcement agency about the case since she sent the letter to Thomas.
Goddard is one of numerous public officials who is under investigation by Arpaio. But Goddard said there is no conflict of interest in the case because the investigation doesn’t involve Arpaio.
“So far I have heard no allegations against the sheriff,” Goddard said.
KTAR Channel 12 news on April 1 reported that a federal grand jury that is investigating Arpaio had expanded its probe to include SCA, and that the state was sharing information on the secretive campaign group with the U.S. Department of Justice.