(May 24, 2015) — In a UPI story published on Sunday, it was reported that Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio is seeking financial assistance from the public as a civil contempt trial proceeds.
U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow has presided over the case, although on Friday, Arpaio's attorneys asked that Snow recuse himself for conflict of interest.
Following that accurate reporting, a series of misstatements was made which were consistently repeated in one form or another by numerous mainstream outlets.
UPI reported that during testimony last month, Arpaio "said his former lawyer conducted a secret investigation into Snow's wife after an unidentified informant claimed she said the judge 'wanted to do everything to make sure (Arpaio is) not elected.'"
However, the informant was identified as Karen Grissom on page 146 of the transcript from the fourth and final day of testimony during the week of April 2, 2015.
The entire transcript for that day can be read here: Arpaio 4-24-15 Evidentiary Hearing Day 4
During testimony on days 3 and 4 last month, Arpaio and his chief deputy, Gerard Sheridan, respectively, did not describe a "secret investigation into Snow's wife." Rather, they explained that one of their defense attorneys had hired a private investigator to determine whether or not Grissom's report of comments Snow's wife allegedly made about her husband's view of Arpaio was credible.
After the private investigator interviewed Grissom, her husband and adult son (page 150 of Day 4 transcript), all of whom were present in the restaurant with Snow's wife, he was reportedly convinced that their accounts were credible (page 148).
Neither Snow nor his wife has denied that she made the comment in the restaurant stating that her husband was intent on seeing that Arpaio was not re-elected in 2012.
On Day 4, Sheridan responded to Snow, "We did not investigate Judge Snow's wife" (page 145).
Despite the transcripts, the mainstream media consistently reported that Arpaio had "admitted" to launching an investigation of Snow's wife and possibly other family members.
On April 24, the ABA Journal headlined an article with "Contempt hearing bombshell: Sheriff Joe Arpaio admits he had federal judge's wife investigated."
On the same day, Arizona Central wrote that according to Arpaio, "PI hired to investigate judge's wife."
Fox News Radio's Alan Colmes, who has interviewed Arpaio, reported, "Arpaio Admits Investigating Judge's Wife." Colmes later clarified in his report that Arpaio had told Snow, "We weren't investigating you. We were investigating some comments that came to our attention."
Of Arpaio's testimony on April 23, MSNBC wrote:
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio admitted under oath Thursday that his attorneys hired a private detective to investigate the wife of the federal judge who had ruled that Arpaio's office engaged in systematic racial profiling. It gets worse: That same judge is currently deciding whether to hold Arpaio in contempt of court for deliberately ignoring a 2011 court order.
"Are you aware that I've been investigated by anyone?" Snow asked.
Snow did not flinch when Arpaio confirmed his suspicions, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. Arpaio said a tipster had sent an email claiming that Snow's wife had commented on how her husband did not want to see the sheriff re-elected in 2012. Arpaio said he believed his former attorney hired a private investigator to dig for details.
"We weren't investigating you," Arpaio told Snow. "We were investigating some comments that came to our attention."
This wasn't the first time that Arpaio has been accused of using his position of power to make similar inquiries into his opponents…
Arpaio was not "inquiring into an opponent" in the matter of Snow's wife's comments. Arpaio and Sheridan also referred to reports they had obtained from confidential informant Dennis Montgomery that the CIA was performing "wiretapping" on their telephones but did not reference the Department of Justice.
Arizona Central inaccurately reported:
After questioning Arpaio on the contempt and immigration matters, Snow shifted his focus to some of the sheriff's more-unorthodox operations, namely involving the sheriff's investigations into public officials…
The implications of Snow's questioning were not immediately clear, but testimony offered a murky glimpse into some of the Sheriff's Office's alleged secret pet projects, with Arpaio conceding that the agency employed unreliable informants, private investigators and an unknown amount of public funds to investigate Arpaio's political enemies.
The Post & Email has reviewed the transcripts from all four days of testimony last month and not found that Snow "shifted his focus to some of the sheriff's more-unorthodox operations, namely involving the sheriff's investigations into public officials."
A virtually identical article to Arizona Central's appeared at USA Today. In reporting that Arpaio had requested that a previous judge on the case recuse herself for conflict of interest based on her twin sister's involvement with "a national Latino rights group,' the column asserted, "It's also not the first time the Sheriff's Office has fixed its energies on a presiding judge's family."
Quoting from The Phoenix New Times, which opposes Arpaio politically, Snow asked Arpaio in court to comment on whether or not he had read an article from the publication which reported last year that Arpaio launched an investigation "focused on U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow, the Justice Department, and a bizarre conspiracy theory that the DOJ and Snow have conspired to somehow 'get' Joe Arpaio."
On Day 4, Snow asked Sheridan if he and Arpaio had been probing whether or not there had been "collusion" between Snow and the U.S. Department of Justice (page 186 of transcript).
In addition to its inaccurate reporting of Arpaio and Sheridan's testimony, UPI reported that Arpaio has been engaged in "accusing U.S. President Barack Obama of forging his birth certificate after the White House released the long-form version of the document and the state of Hawaii "officially confirmed that the information in the copy of the certificate of live birth for the president matches the original record in their files." In his piece, however, writer Fred Lambert relied on a statement made by then-Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett which reported that the Hawaii Department of Health had provided "information confirming Hawaii has a birth certificate for President Barack Obama."
On July 9, 2009, WND reported of UPI and snopes.com with screenshots that "Within hours of a WND report revealing Obama's birth being reported at two different Hawaiian hospitals, both sites changed their information to suddenly fall in line with the president's claim that he was born at Kapi'olani."
Lambert did not mention the two formal press conferences in which Arpaio and Zullo detailed how they had reached their conclusions and called upon the media and Congress to conduct their own investigations.
The Phoenix New Times has called the birth certificate investigation "phony." Much of the publication's pages contain obscenities and indecency which do meet The Post & Email's standards for providing a link.
The Washington Post, The New York Times, Fox News and other major news sources have failed to report the posse's findings and the second criminal investigation launched by Arpaio resulting from those conclusions.
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