The Frontera Fund Grows In Importance After Joe Arpaio Incident

The tough talk and even tougher stance of Sheriff Joe Arpaio towards what he saw as the dangers posed by the Hispanic community of Arizona which trickled down to include a major push against African-American and Native-American communities along the border with Mexico. One of the best-known events of the stewardship of Maricopa County of Sheriff Arpaio came in 2007 when journalists and Village Voice Media executives, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested after supposedly revealing Grand Jury secrets regarding their own company; Sheriff Arpaio had been the subject of an investigation and articles published by Larkin and Lacey’s Phoenix New Times prompting retaliation from Arpaio and his allies in Maricopa County.

Larkin and Lacey published their own view on the financial irregularities in Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department in 2007 via a series of articles in their Arizona-based publication. Sheriff Arpaio and legal experts in Maricopa County were quick to strike back with a threat, not only to Larkin and Lacey but also to the First Amendment rights of the people of the U.S. The Grand Jury subpoenas illegally obtained by Maricopa County officials included a call for Larkin and Lacey to reveal the personal information of their readership including the IP addresses of Web-based readers to the office of Sheriff Arpaio.

The law enforcement official who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2017 was the subject of a further front-page article from Larkin and Lacey as they set out to reveal the threat to the First Amendment begun by Maricopa County officials. On the night of October 18, 2017, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were at their respective homes when unmarked vehicles arrived with law enforcement officers arresting the men and taking them away under cover of darkness.

After being released from custody after less than 24 hours when national and international media outlets made much of the illegal nature of the arrests, Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County were sued by the journalists as they set out to shine a light on the illegal acts carried out by Arpaio and his allies. The Frontera Fund was born out of the frustration of local and national election candidates during the 2014 midterm elections repeating the anti-Hispanic rhetoric of Joe Arpaio on the campaign trail prompting Larkin and Lacey to use their $3.7 million compensation package to fight for the rights of every group victimized by Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County agency across the course of his two-decade stint as Sheriff.