Andrew Thomas speaks out on ethics panel decision

PHOENIX - Ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas held a news conference Wednesday to speak out on an ethics board ruling that stripped him of his legal license.

"I did my job. A lot of powerful people didn't like that," he said.

An Arizona ethics board disbarred Thomas Tuesday for failed corruption investigations that he and America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff launched against officials with whom they were having political and legal disputes.

"We now have a constitutional crisis in which prosecutors and members of the executive branch are being targeted by the judiciary for blowing the whistle on misconduct in the judiciary," he said.

He compared the figures behind his disbarring to corrupt Mexican officials.

"Arizona, after what happened yesterday, has become Mexico," Thomas said.

Thomas would not say whether he plans to appeal the decision, or whether he has a lawyer or even funding to do so, but said he was set to release a book.

"I will have more to say in my forthcoming book," he said.

Lisa Aubuchon, a one-time top assistant to Thomas, also spoke to the media and said she plans to file an appeal.

Aubuchon was also disbarred effective May 10.

Thomas released an initial statement following Tuesday's ruling, saying in part, "I brought corruption cases in good faith involving powerful people, and the political and legal establishment blatantly covered up and retaliated by targeting my law license."

The three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona courts found that Thomas had violated the rules of conduct for lawyers in bringing criminal charges against two county officials and a judge in December 2009 with the purpose of embarrassing them.

All three cases were dismissed after a judge ruled that Thomas prosecuted one of the officials for political gain and had a conflict of interest in the case.

Other county officials and judges who were at odds with Thomas and his top ally, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, also were investigated by the pair but weren't charged with crimes.

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