Maricopa County officials voted to use $4.4 million in taxpayer money to pay fees for attorneys who won a racial profiling case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The vote Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors brings the amount of taxpayer money spent on Arpaio's profiling case to $48.2 million.
The lawyers who pressed the case against Arpaio have attributed most of the latest attorney fees to the sheriff's contempt-of-court violation for defying a judge's order in the profiling case.
The attorneys were previously awarded nearly $4.5 million in taxpayer money during 2014 for the costs of bringing the case to trial.
Federal law lets the winners of civil rights cases seek reimbursement for legal costs.
Arpaio and his office released a statement in hopes of setting "the record straight" which read in part:
"The Sheriff and Chief Deputy Sheridan offered to and made admissions of civil contempt. The ACLU, however, along with the horde of other attorneys purportedly representing the Plaintiffs' interests, for political and financial reasons alone, refused all offers and attempts to negotiate a reasonable settlement.
In March of 2015, the Sheriff and his Chief Deputy, Jerry Sheridan, attempted to negotiate a settlement with the ACLU to avoid what they knew would be a lengthy and costly contempt hearing. They had their attorneys ask the ACLU for a 'wish list' of items to which they desired Sheriff Arpaio to agree. They received a rather extensive list in response from the ACLU. Much to the ACLU's chagrin, Sheriff Arpaio agreed to every item on their wish list. The Sheriff offered, among other things, 1) a $100,000.00 donation from the Sheriff's personal funds, 2) a public, personal apology by Sheriff Arpaio, and 3) more monitor involvement in Internal Affairs cases. This list was incorporated into the Sheriff's Supplemental Motion to Vacate and Request for Entry of Judgment filed on April 10, 2015. Despite the fact that the Sheriff agreed to every one of the ACLU's requests, the ACLU reneged on its offer. In fact, one ACLU member quipped at the end of the hearing, outside of the courtroom, 'I guess we didn't ask for enough', telling everyone within earshot that no matter what was offered, the ACLU would not accept it. Instead, the parties were forced to participate in weeks of unnecessary discovery and a twenty day hearing on issues that had been already admitted, or were otherwise irrelevant.
The ACLU could have, but refused to eliminate the need for the lengthy, expensive hearing that occurred throughout 2015, and resulted in Plaintiffs' request for 6 million dollars in attorneys' fees and costs, which was reduced after negotiations to 4.4 million dollars. At the end of this unnecessary expenditure of time and money, the ACLU and the pack of Plaintiffs' attorneys capitalized on the waste they had demanded and for which they were responsible by seeking an exorbitant amount of attorneys' fees and costs from Maricopa County. The County again negotiated in good faith with the ACLU, which negotiations had the result of saving County taxpayers nearly 2 million dollars. The Board of Supervisors approved that settlement."