The pardon of ex-Maricopa Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio ranks as one of the most controversial presidential pardons to date. The situation surrounding Arpaio’s indictment and pardon speaks to a broader social discourse gripping the country. The self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” has been at the forefront of the illegal immigration debacle for years.
The scandalous manner in which Arpaio enforced immigration laws during his tenure gained national notoriety. Over the years many have spoken out against his ethics and strategy, defending the Latino community in Arizona. Among them former Village Voice Media owners Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.
The newsmen, who began their careers founding the Phoenix New Times, exposed many of Arpaio’s scandals. They dogged Arpaio when other news sources left him alone, beginning a well-known feud that lasted the breadth of his career.
Michael Lacey was a college dropout from ASU when he founded Phoenix New Times. The counterculture news source was created in response to the Kent State Shootings. It was designed as an alternate news weekly that counteracted the conservative news stories of the day.
As the years passed Phoenix New Times became a respected news source. Lacey operated as the chief editor, with Jim Larkin as the head of publicity. In 1983 the duo purchased Denver alternative weekly Westword.
By the time Arpaio took office the newsmen had created a multi-million dollar conglomerate of 17 weeklies stretching from sea to shining sea. Lacey was still the chief editor, and Larkin operated as CEO. The two were still dedicated to the first amendment, and providing counterculture articles. Arpaio’s focus on immigration caught their attention and the games began.
Their coverage of Arpaio forever stained his legacy, and Apraio began targeting them too. He even began investigating them. In 2007 Lacey and Larkin were arrested for printing a confidential subpoena under their byline.
The arrest led to a 24 day incarceration. Later they would file a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment and would win a $3.75 million dollar settlement. They sold Village Voice in 2012.
For the last few years the duo has been aiding Latin communities in Arizona through the Frontera Fund. The fund divvies out the $3.75 million dollar settlement to Latino organizations that focus on migrant rights. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Twitter
It is their way of keeping up the fight with Arpaio, and the standards that he has set. Recently the duo returned to the news with digital counterculture site Front Page Confidential.
True to form Front Page Confidential has released numerous articles about Arpaio’s pardon, and continues to cover him. For Lacey and Larkin the fight is not over, and as Apraio plans his senate run the stage is set for the feud to continue.