He may be among the most corrupt public officials ever to receive a full Presidential pardon for his crimes. But former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio was not pardoned by any President – he was forgiven his crimes by a man who may be his shady political soulmate — Donald Trump.
Two Arizona newspapermen who experienced the receiving end of Arpaio’s many illegal police tactics are Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The pair were publishers of the Phoenix New Times, a Pulitzer Prize winning alternative newspaper which had spent years documenting the abuses of Joe Arpaio.
It was in October of 2007 that Sheriff Arpaio ordered his henchmen to arrest Larkin and Lacey. They were hustled from their homes in the middle of the night and driven away in unmarked cars afixed with Mexican license plates.
The pretext for the arrest was a column published in the Phoenix New Times. It revealed certain specific information contained in an illegal grand jury subpoena filed against Larkin and Lacey. The subpoena was a bungled attempt to charge Larkin and Lacey with a trumped-up accusation of revealing the address of a public servant in a newspaper.
Arrest of the newsmen set off a firestorm of public protest, including from some of the most conservative political figures in Arizona who had otherwise turned a blind eye to Arpaio’s questionable practices. Larkin and Lacey were released within 24 hours and charges were hastily dropped.
It was clear that the arrest of two newsmen was a blatant violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protecting freedom of the press. Larkin and Lacey went further by suing Maricopa County – they were eventually awarded $3.7 million.
Rather than pocket the money, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey established a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the very groups that had been the target of Arpaio’s reign of terror – undocumented immigrant and people of Latino or Hispanic heritage.
Both Larkin and Lacey are college dropouts. While attending Arizona State University in the 1970s, the men opted to buy out an ASU student newspaper which they transformed into the Phoenix New Times. Read more: Michael Lacey | LinkedIn and Michael Lacey | Crunchbase
Neither man knew anything about journalism or the business end of running a successful paper – but they shepherded their publication to become one of the most effective alternative news sources in the nation. They also established a coast-to-coast chain of 17 sister papers –- including New York’s Village Voice Media.
Jim Larkin served as CEO of the newspaper chain and Michael Lacey was executive editor. In 2013 Larkin and Lacey sold interest in their publishing business to Voice Media Group.
Today Larkin and Lacey continue to serve the people of Arizona through the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund – the organization they established with the $3.7 million settlement they received by successfully suing Maricopa County.
The Frontera Fund has helped countless people of Mexican heritage in the United States, as well as other groups from Latin American countries who come here to find jobs, basic safety, political freedom and a better way of life.