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Op-Ed: Maricopa County, AZ Seat to Unprecedented Judicial Corruption

By Christopher Wager     Jul 30, 2012 in Politics
Maricopa County, Arizona judicial corruption allegations reach unprecedented level, and battle lines are drawn leaving a wake of victims in it's path.
Maricopa County, Arizona, home to such places as Paradise Valley, Phoenix, and Scottsdale. Maricopa is a place to feel the spirit of the west, a place to take in the majestic landscape and breath-taking scenery.
One might not think of Maricopa County as perhaps one of the single judicially corrupt places in the whole state of Arizona. However, Maricopa is not only one of the most corrupt corrupt counties, thick with blatant cronyism. Judges under investigation on racketeering charges are being accused of using the court system in retaliation against those entrusted with the duty of holding any and every one accountable for their action which lead to breaking the law.
Which is what happened starting in 2008 when then County Attorney Andrew Thomas attempted to bring to justice a select number of corrupt judges and county supervisors of Maricopa County, for alleged racketeering or organized-crime activities involving a major county construction project, and conspiracy charges involving misappropriation of campaign funds, quid pro quo involving grants and loans, financial misreporting, and unsubstantial self-awards made to county supervisors in the millions as a start.
This all may sound pedestrian in the fact that judicial corruption is nothing new. However, the story takes an ugly turn when those allegedly closest to the corruption release a firestorm of vindictive hatred on a relatively lower-level attorney with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO) Rachel Alexander.
Attorney Alexander's esteemed career accomplishments include a law degree from the University of Arizona, and degrees in both Political Science and History from the University of Washington. Alexander also held the position of co-president of the Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha at University of Washington, chair of the Arizona Civil Rights Committee and Initiative (passed the ballot in 2010 - bans race and gender preferences in government -, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Arizona Right to Life (2005-2010), and a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona (2000-2003). Furthermore, she was the Director of Social Media on three candidates' campaigns - JD Hayworth for U.S. Senate, David Schweikert for Congress, and Andrew Thomas for Attorney General.
In addition, Attorney Alexander has established herself as an influential and well-known conservative blogger, with a solid and respected voice of the conservative media. She writes a weekly column for Townhall, runs the website, and has appeared on several TV and radio shows discussing political issues, including The O'Reilly Factor, Montel Williams (three times), Scarborough County, and Focus on the Family.
Alexander's involvement in the construction of the case files against the county judges, and supervisors was limited and superficial at best. To articulate the facts, Alexander at the time, answered to Pete Spaw, the office expert on racketeering who answered to County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Although Alexander's name appeared on the filing as mere formality in effort to preserve the integrity of the office while circumventing what may have appeared to be a conflict of interest within the department. Alexander did file the racketeering lawsuit, but was brought in later to work on research and a response in the case, neither which had ever been included in any formal filings. The official charges were filed against the judges and supervisors on December 9, 2009, and officially withdrawn in March of 2010 under the order of Thomas. In April of 2010, both Thomas (to run for Attorney General) and Alexander resigned. The Arizona Bar Association promptly began its investigation of Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon (top prosecuting attorney), and Alexander on alleged ethics violations during the building of their department's case. It is important to give scale and weight to the magnitude of the case against the judges and supervisors, by noting the case drew the attention of the Department of Justice (DOJ). At the time, a high-level former DOJ Attorney had agreed to represent yet another character in this story whose career was on the line, Sheriff Arpaio, who stood with Thomas in his crusade to defeat the corrupt machine running Maricopa County. Stating the case had merit, he said he would urge the DOJ to take over the investigation, however, this cooperation never materialized.
It is interesting to mention, of all the fellows in Thomas's office including top ranking attorneys; none were ever investigated for any wrongdoing besides Lisa Aubuchon including Pete Spaw. The personal and professional campaign to destroy Alexander's career, integrity, and law practice began in June 2011 when the Arizona Bar Association prosecutors served her with overreaching interrogatories demanding disclosure of any and all blogs she had ever written on the internet. In the same month hackers targeted her website crashing it in August of 2011. On investigation the IP address involved in the attack was traced back to non other than one of the county supervisor's offices. Alexander took prompt and proper action, reporting the attack to the FBI, Phoenix Police, and Maricopa County Sheriff, but nothing was ever investigated. Her website, which received 4000 unique visitors per day and had over 6000 pages of archives, was eventually destroyed by the hackers, forcing her to start rebuilding it from scratch.
The ethics trial ran September 2011 through November 2011 with bar association prosecutors offering Alexander a deal beginning with 2 year's probation, then reducing it to 1 year and finally to just taking extra Continuing Legal Education classes. It is important to point out during the trial Alexander became the target of one Lee Vandenbrink who had harassed her to the point she had to obtain a restraining order. In addition, a county work, who will go unnamed, sent numerous threatening emails to her from her work computer. As well as posting foul comments on a publicly read board which are continuing by various opponents of Alexander to this day. The local press have behaved in the most non-journalistic manner in regards to Alexander using language one would expect to read in a second rate blog at best. The tone and voice of the local press had Alexander not only convicted of nothing more than not being liked by them. Taking every opportunity to unleash what has amounted to a public flogging using subjective, smearing, and insulting language which constitutes the lowest form of attack. To be fair, a reader must look past the useful idiots of the press and hold accountable the parties condoning and even encouraging this in the first place. A person doesn't have to look far to see who and what groups are fueling the blow back Alexander is suffering for. The level of hypocrisy by all involved is almost unmeasurable. As with the hacking incident, Alexander's reporting of these goings on went uninvestigated.
On April 10, 2012, Judge Bill O'Neil and two other panelists of the Bar Association Disciplinary Board issued their decision. Alexander pointed out to this journalist a number of falsehoods and inaccuracies, and plain out lies describing her participation in the case. However, as the hammer fell, Thomas and Aubuchon we both disbarred. Alexander's license was scheduled to be suspended for 6 month plus one day, forcing her to take the bar exam again and reapply to be admitted to the bar association.
In addition, the county supervisors refuse to fund her appeal, saying it's not covered by county insurance since her behavior was so bad. One would have to question what definition of "bad" is guiding their decision? She filed a Notice of Claim against them in May 2012 demanding they fund her attorney on the appeal -[url=http:// t=_blank]
To make matters worse, O'Neill ordered Alexander not to take on any new clients, and the suspension will begin July 23rd. However, in an unprecedented change of events, due to what is suspected to be pressure from the Arizona Supreme Court, Judge O'Neill over-turned his own decision on Attorney Alexander's original appeal filing which was dismissed on the grounds of being filed too close to the filing deadline, an inappropriate reason to dismiss an appeal. Currently, O'Neil allowed Alexander's original filing to stand and issued a stay on her suspension until the conclusion of the appeal process.
Since these injustices were imposed on Alexander she has suffered a great deal of personal hardship. With the loss of respect of her colleagues, the public, the community, and her personal assets due to the implosion of her practice as a result of the disciplinary board's decision. With no means of income or support for her defense from the county supervisors, Alexander has been left trying to establish a defense fund on her own, leaving her financially weakened, adding additional strain to her defense. Her home was foreclosed on, and her fiance left her, unable to deal with the stress and inability to make a living from the bankruptcy law firm they ran together. Formerly, a very fit person, she has come down with fibromyalgia from the stress. It has become all but certain she was the target of the "Shadow Justice" running Maricopa County from the beginning. With no ties to corruption or in a position to turn a favor she was: 1. Unable or would be unwilling to buy her innocence. 2. With no friends willing to protect her in order to preserve themselves or protect themselves from being targeted. This case goes far deeper than Alexander's fight, which has become a twisted reality of justice where the victims are fighting to prove their innocence after being set-up to be guilty. All the while those originally accused of legitimate crimes walk free, free to continue their mockery and prostitution of the law. One example of what some are feeling to be an "over-compensation" County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox (D) was awarded $975,000 in taxpayer's money for her "stress", over being prosecuted, and she's not the only one to do so, there have been several payouts already and more on the way.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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