Joel Fox responds

18 Jul 2009 06:54 am
Posted by: Donna

Captain Fox took the time to comment to my post from the other day.

Dear Diva,
The only parts of this story that don’t make sense, are the parts that everybody seems to want to add in to it.

Like suggesting that my donation paid for any ads, let alone the one you are referring to.

It’s pretty simple, really.

I set up a bank account so that I could fund some kind of mass communication to defend what I feel are malicious and unfounded media reports of deputy’s and detention officer’s alleged racist, murdering, lazy, uncaring, thug mentalities and behaviors.

The fund spread only by word of mouth among captains and above, and eventually was mentioned to several other people outside MCSO and some decided to support my effort.

When the media attacks on deputies and detention officers came full force during the summer of 2008, I began to develop a strategy, but quickly realized that many would suggest whatever I did was only to support Joe Arpaio, and make all kinds of accusations and jump to all kinds of conclusions about my “true” motivations…just like what actually happened.

I thought I could avoid such issues by simply giving the money to the Republican Party. Sorry, but my thinking was that the Republican Party supports the same issues that cops tend to care about, and the democrats, not so much.

It’s important to remember that it was widely believed that Joe Arpaio had the election locked, and besides, he raised a record half million dollars for his campaign. He doesn’t need my help to win any elections.

The Party contacted me and asked for the names of the original donors, but this was my fund, my decision, and I sent the check only because I wanted to. I had never consulted any of the donors, and thought it would be Giving in the Name of Another if I said they made a contribution that they didn’t actually make.

Since I didn’t provide the names, the party sent the money back, and I, in turn, sent the money back to the original donors, who could then decide on their own if they wanted to give it to the Party in their own name, on their own check, all nice and legal, like it’s supposed to be.

I thought that would be the end of the story, but then the Party funds those ads, and the speculation contest begins.

I have been trying to find an equitable solution, ever since.

It’s not fair to the donors to be associated with those ads, when they had nothing at all to do with them. It was not their decision to come forward or not…it was mine.
Several of them got word to me that I should release their names, or at least that they didn’t care if their names were released…probably thinking that I was fighting the issue to protect them, but that was not the case.

I don’t believe what I did converts SCA into a political committee because I acted alone, and I never had any intention to influence any election. I know,,,I know,,,doesn’t the Party influence elections you’ll ask. And of course they do…but they do other things, too, like operating expenses, slate mailers, GOTV drives, etc, and I never put any restriction on the money, so they could do whatever they wanted with it. And in fact, while they had my money, they spent $150,000 on operating expenses, as well as $78,000 for that ad…so why is my money tied to the ad? (because I work for MCSO and no other reason)

The way I read the law, you have to give money because you want to influence an election, and I didn’t care one way or another. And since all the money was returned to me, I fail to see how it could be possibly considered campaign related.

Obviously, as we all know by now, County Elections didn’t quite see it the same way, and not only demanded that I produce my private bank records, but also a $315,450.00 fine.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a public servant, and if you sold everything I own and two of my children, I couldn’t raise that kind of cash, so naturally, I had to appeal the decision.

I argued that I am not a committee, not the treasurer, and didn’t make contributions because any one of those arguments would negate the fine, if I won.

Luckily, I also argued that the County did not follow proper procedure in imposing the fine, and I won that issue.

I paid the small fine for not filing, and attempted to satisfy the compliance order, but the order was messed up, too, and they didn’t actually ask for records that would produce the names.

The attorney for elections then does some fancy footwork and rather odd statutory interpretation to try and include the names, and says he will still seek the $315,000 if I don’t produce them, so, I appealed again, and motioned for a stay of their decision.

At the hearing on my motion, the judge said that election transparency is tantamount (which is, of course, true) and denied the stay.

But the thing is, he didn’t know whether everything was already transparent, and didn’t know if SCA actually legally fit the definition of a political committee, but obviously by his ruling, his mind was made up.

Since the donors didn’t care, and the judge basically told me that I was wasting my time, I decided to just give the names to elections and be done with it…so I did.

Naturally, this does not stop the speculation from happening just like I said it would, and doesn’t stop even more speculation and accusations against everyone involved, but if you look at the facts, you’ll see it happened just like I say it happened, and have been saying from the beginning.

The donors who wanted to honor my decision sent money in their own names, on their own checks, and were properly reported. All the money the Party collected was properly reported, and none of it came from SCA.

The only thing being speculated on now, is who told me to do all this, as if I’m the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, and I can’t think for myself. I suppose they think that it just can’t be that simple, but if there was a grand conspiracy, I would think it would have to include the Republican Party, and they were obviously not included, because they gave the money back.

I don’t think anyone would agree to spend $78,000, if they just had to give it back…and it’s just sheer foolishness to think we planned this all out for the Party to give the money back to me, so I could return it to the donors, and then they could then send it back to the party. If somebody told me that plan, I’d run as quick as I could because it’s just stupid. It would work just as well if the people just sent the money straight to the party, rather than making a 2 year detour through the SCA account.

If you just look at the facts, and try to stop from thinking that every non democrat is a sneaky criminal so you won’t have to fill in any blanks with nefarious, smoke filled back rooms, you’ll see that it makes perfect sense.

It looks weird precisely because it was not planned out.

I know it’s hard to believe that a cop who supports republicans might be telling the truth, but if you just give me the ever so slightest benefit of the doubt, you’ll see it’s not that confusing at all

2 Comments

  1. Comment by Mark Manoil on July 18, 2009 11:02 am

    That it wasn’t “planned out” doesn’t make the campaign finance law violation any less egregious.
    A couple questions for Capt. Fox: 1) is ignorance of the law a valid defense; and 2) if this was such an innocent scam, why did it take 9 months to explain it? Maybe a third question, too: with 5 or more $100K+/year public information officers on the MCSO payroll at taxpayer expense, why did he think it necessary to raise an independent fund for deputy/detention officer public relations?
    The “not thought through” explanation does seem plausible — but is not exculpatory for a law enforcement officer, and given the critical interval when the money was in the Republican Party’s hands, it’s disingenuous to suggest there was no connection between the donation and the despicable things the party did at that time. (Which had nothing to do with deputy and detention officer reputations, by the way.)

  2. Comment by Joel Fox on July 25, 2009 2:14 am

    Sorry it took so long to get back and respond…I just now found this…

    Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. I think we all know that. But I am not claiming ignorance. I researched the law, and it says that a committee has more than one person, and must be for the purpose of influencing an election. While I certainly have more than one person’s money, I am still but a single person. And I don’t believe that giving money to a political party is, by default, for the purpose of influencing an election. Certainly, political parties are in business to influence elections, but they do other things, too, such as voter registration drives. There is nothing in the law, or in precedence that would suggest money given to a political party is for an election, unless otherwise designated.

    SCA is not now, nor has ever been a political committee.

    It didn’t take 9 months to tell the story. I’ve told the same story from day 1. The only new addition is the names of the donors, and I think I have explained why I did not want to hand over innocent donors to the media lynch mob.

    MCSO does not have 5 PIO’s…I only know of 3, and none of them make 100k, or anything even close. It’s all public information, and if you are really the person that you say you are, you would know that.

    The PIOs handle public information, respond to media requests, and facilitate media relations. It’s not their job to produce mass communications in the defense of MCSO employees falsely accused by the media, and if they did, I can only imagine the criticism and cries from the public for spending taxpayer funds on this kind of thing.

    If you honestly believe it is disingenuous to say there is no connection between my donation and what the Republican Party did with it, then you’re only showing your bias. You assume that the party used my money for the ads, as the media often suggests, but the party spent over $150,000 in non election related operating expenses while it had my $105,000, too. Why don’t you assume my money was used for those expenses?
    The County’s investigation and the ALJ both did not find any connection to any ads, nor any evidence to suggest that there was. Or were you referring to some other “despicable things”?

    What is disingenuous, friend, is to accuse another of a crime based on only your prejudice, with no evidence whatsoever to substantiate it.

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