On a list of Republican governors that includes Scott Walker of Ohio, Rick Scott of Florida and Jon Kasich of Ohio, Arizona’s Jan Brewer may be the worst of a bad bunch. Now she’s appointed an ally of Joe Arpaio — one so bad that even the recently disbarred Andrew Thomas fired him — to a state realty board.
File this one under “outrage du jour”: Dennis Wilenchik, the former special prosecutor whose runaway investigation of New Times resulted in the wrongful arrests of Village Voice Media Editor Michael Lacey and VVM CEO Jim Larkin, has been appointed by Governor Jan Brewer to sit on Arizona’s Real Estate Advisory Board. ..
The appointment of Wilenchik to any position involving the “interests of the public” is troubling, as he was fired in 2007 by his former boss, now disbarred and disgraced ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, less than 24 hours after the nighttime arrests of Lacey and Larkin by MCSO thugs on bogus misdemeanor charges.
Those arrests caused an unprecedented public outcry, which forced Thomas to end the probe of New Times and ax Wilenchik, who was his hand-picked attack schnauzer. Wilenchik, however, continued to represent the county in civil cases.
Wilenchik’s investigation of New Times was part witchhunt, part vendetta, all over a 2004 article looking into Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s real estate deals by New Times reporter John Dougherty. In that piece, Dougherty revealed Arpaio’s home address, as it was the only address available through public records. Arpaio had ordered the addresses of all his other holdings redacted.
It’s not against the law to publish such an address in print, but there is an obscure Arizona law, unknown to Dougherty at the time, which makes it illegal to post a cop’s home address online.
Arpaio had been seeking indictments against New Times for a couple of years for this supposed crime, but he couldn’t get a county attorney to touch the matter, until Thomas took up the cudgel.
Thomas was Wilenchik’s ex-employee, and so Thomas empowered his pal to go after New Times. Though a grand jury had yet to be empaneled, Wilenchik nevertheless issued subpoenas in the grand jury’s name.
This is exactly what Thomas was recently disbarred for, using his office to punish the political opponent of Arpaio with trumped-up criminal charges and official harassment. Now one of his attack dogs has an official state appointment.