The risk of the federal government’s suing Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio has passed – at least for another week – but Maricopa County administrators fear the sheriff’s refusal to cooperate with a Justice Department investigation could put the county at risk of losing more than $100 million in federal funds, reports the Arizona Republic. Representatives for Arpaio and the Justice Department are scheduled to meet next week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the impasse and no legal action will be filed before that meeting.
County officials worry the fight over records could jeopardize its pot of federal funding. Last year, the county received $113 million in funding from the federal government; the sheriff got $3.8 million of that total. Investigators with the Department of Justice do not have the power to compel Arpaio to turn over documents related to their civil-rights probe in Maricopa County, but the Justice Department can use the threat of pulling federal funds to encourage reluctant agencies to cooperate. When the Justice Department announced its civil-rights probe last year, it said there were two investigations taking place: one dealing with access to services for county jail inmates who don’t speak English well, the other dealing with racial profiling on the street.