Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s decided to put journalists on notice that “freedom of speech” has its limits in his county. He ordered his tax paid attorney to send a letter to the West Valley View newspaper threatening legal consequences over a head line that the sheriff disliked. The headline read: “Sheriff as dangerous as a child predator.”

“It was meant to be harsh,” said Jim Painter, the managing editor but one wonder’s how it could be viewed as civil or criminally actionable.

The paper ran an opinion column saying Arpaio was endangering the Avondale community by not telling the paper about a pair of attempted child kidnappings.

You see for more than a year, the sheriff has complained the paper, offers unflattering coverage. Arpaio went so far as to restrict the West ValleyView’s access to critical information and press releases.

The paper took the sheriff to court, and a judge ruled that Arpaio needed to provide equal information and press releases to the newspaper. The sheriff’s office e-mails news outlets “breaking” or critical informational press releases and alerts with the single exception of the west valley news.

A Sheriff’s Office spokesman claimed the news releases on the attempted abductions were at headquarters for all to look at. But the West Valley View’s news editor wrote a column criticizing the sheriff for failing to alert the newspaper to the incidents. The paper ran the provocative headline on the Oct. 3 Opinions page

Arpaio then had his county-appointed attorney, Dennis Wilenchik, go to work. Wilenchik, charges taxpayers $185 an hour for his time writing letters on behalf of the sheriff. Wilenchik’s Oct. 24 letter demanded the paper retract the child-predator comparison and “publish the truth” about Arpaio or else, Wilenchik warned that the headline was “malicious, dangerous behavior,”

It will be remembered the “BOSS” as the sheriff is more commonly known recently made headlines for running the only Jail system in the United States considered so corrupt and inhumanly dangerous several member nations of the E.U have chosen not to honor extradition agreements with maricopa county.

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