A hidden computer database recently discovered in the course of a racial profiling investigation shows Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio misspent up to $80 million in funds intended for jail operations, according to Maricopa County supervisors and budget officials.
The hidden database contained payroll logs that detailed staff assignments and payments which were different than the staff assignments and payments reported in the official county-run database, they said.
“They’ve developed a system that basically tracks where they are working versus where they are being paid, and they did not update the official database, which led to the potential problems,” Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson told The Arizona Republic. “I think they deliberately hid this info from us.”
A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office denied any intention of hiding information from the county and blamed the duplicate payrolls on a lack of compatible technology between the Sheriff’s Office and county agencies.
In September, Maricopa County officials reported that Arpaio’s office misspent up to $80 million in funds over five years to pay his employees working in patrol, human-smuggling operations and investigative units. The voter-approved money was restricted by law to detention operations such as food, detention officers’ salaries, and equipment.
“It appears that [the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office] violated the intent and explicit language of the voter approved jail tax when they used that money to fund activities not related to jail operations,” a press release said. “Maricopa County will have to pay back the restricted funds to the detention fund. This is a misuse of public funds.”
The latest report by the Maricopa County Office of Management and Budget has “identified at least $34 million in misspending” but has not yet been able to “address some of the more complicated staffing issues.”
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has served subpoenas to thirteen of Arpaio’s employees and has asked Arpaio to turn over financial documents, software, and 12 years worth of timesheets.
Arpaio has been sheriff of Arizona’s largest county since 1992 and proclaims himself as the “toughest sheriff in the nation.”
The United States Department of Justice has been investigating Arpaio since 2009 for accusations of discrimination, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and having English-only policies in his jails.
Arpaio has refused to cooperate with the investigation and in September the Justice Department sued him for refusing to hand over documents related to the investigation.
“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division. “It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities.”
In October, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s appeal of District Court Judge Neil Wake’s 2008 ruling that mandated Maricopa County fix the unconstitutional conditions of its jails.
In the 2008 trial, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleged that the Sheriff’s Office fed pre-trial detainees moldy bread, rotten fruit, and other contaminated food and held them in prison cells hot enough to endanger their health.
As a press release by the ACLU explains, Judge Wake’s ruling required Sheriff Arpaio to “end severe overcrowding and ensure all detainees receive necessary medical and mental health care, be given uninterrupted access to all medications prescribed by correctional medical staff, be given access to exercise and to sinks, toilets, toilet paper and soap and be served food that meets or exceeds the US Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines.”
WATCH: White House protesters chant ‘impeach Trump’ loud enough for aides to hear
Protesters gathered in front of the White House on Sunday to call on President Donald Trump to be removed from office.
Videos circulated online showed protesters chanting "impeach Trump" close enough to the White House for staff to hear the demonstration.
In other videos, protesters were blowing loud whistles.
Meanwhile, demonstrators also greeted Trump as he visited his New Jersey golf course. Pro-impeachment protesters were also reportedly out on the streets in Boston and New York City.
Watch some of the video clips below.
Outside the White House right now:
Here are 3 moves a desperate Trump will likely attempt in order to cling to power
In a column for the Daily Beast, political observer Micheal Tomasky speculated -- and not without good reason -- that a frantic Donald Trump will do anything to remain in office and thereby avoid being slammed with criminal indictments once he departs the Oval Office for good..
As the columnist explained, impeachment seems inevitable and the president will likely take desperate measures and that he has already given hints about three paths he may take -- if not all of them.
Tomasky wrote, "It’s foolish to say that Trump thinks ahead about anything. The late journalist Wayne Barrett said many true things about Trump, but the truest ever was when he observed that Trump says whatever will get him through the next 10 minutes," before adding, "People around him of course are more strategic and are thinking ahead. And they’re all saying and doing and writing things right now that will, if the opportunity presents itself, pave the way for Trump to burn the Constitution."
Veteran journalist Sam Donaldson: Trump’s rabid followers will never get their ‘white Christian country’ back
Veteran White House reporter Sam Donaldson insisted on Sunday that President Donald Trump's supporters do not represent the diversity of the United States.
"His strong supporters -- I mean, lock her up, I mean, all the things he says, all the vicious, mean things he says, they love it," Donaldson told CNN host Brian Stelter. "They’re good Americans otherwise. They’ll probably give you the shirt off their back, they’ll help you if you need it, but they have this fixation."
"They want to return this country to the white Christian country that they believe it should be again," he continued. "They don’t want the diversity, and they follow him for this, but they’re not the country. We are a diverse people, we are good and strong because of that.