|Maricopa County Worker Files Claim Against County
February 3, 2011
Another county employee has filed a claim against Maricopa County related to the years-long legal battles between the Sheriff’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office and county administrators.
Bob Rampy, a commander in the sheriff’s technology bureau, filed a notice of claim Wednesday requesting $750,000 in damages for what he alleges was a concerted campaign to damage his reputation by representatives of the Board of Supervisors.
Rampy’s claim revolves around a letter between lawyers for the Sheriff’s Office and the Board of Supervisors, and whether a county representative intentionally shared the letter with the media in an effort to tarnish Rampy’s reputation.
The letter was written in September 2010, as the political and legal campaigns between county agencies were reaching their apex. The federal government had just sued the Sheriff’s Office in an attempt to access records in a civil-rights investigation and threatened to pull millions in federal funding from the county if Arpaio did not comply.
Supervisors and sheriff’s officials were publicly sparring over allegations of misspending in Arpaio’s office.
With the contentious relationship between county administrators and sheriff’s officials serving as the backdrop, Julie Pace and David Selden, attorneys for the county, wrote a letter to lawyers for the Sheriff’s Office asking if Rampy had used a county-owned SUV to conduct surveillance on county officials.
The sheriff’s lawyers responded with a resounding ‘no’ and claimed the initial letter had one purpose: “to harass, intimidate and defame a material witness (Rampy).”
Attorney’s for the Sheriff’s Office also asked Pace and Selden to maintain all communication about the offending letter, including any with The Arizona Republic.
The Republic wrote a story about the county’s letter, in which a sheriff’s attorney reiterated his stance that Pace and Selden were misguided. The New Times ran a story on the exchange a day later which quoted Cari Gerchick, a county spokeswoman.
Rampy’s notice of claim asserts that Maricopa County administrators and their representatives harmed his reputation, inflicted emotional distress, forced him to incur legal fees and contributed to his “adverse health effects.”
County Manager David Smith said he had not seen the claim notice Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m not going to be surmising on the value of anything right now,” Smith said. “We’ll treat it like all the others.”
The county’s potential liability costs stemming from the legal and political battles between the Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas now stands at more than $106 million.
Arpaio said the notion of making financial claims against the government is not in his nature, but if Rampy believes he has been mistreated, he is in his rights.
“I’m probably the only guy left that’s not filing (a lawsuit),” Arpaio said. “I’m not going to go overboard and say, ‘People are crazy, they’re all suing, they all want taxpayer money.’ They have a right to sue. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.”
Just last week, Thomas and Sheriff’s Chief Deputy David Hendershott — who is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into his conduct — filed $37.5 million in claims tied to the battles. In that same claim, former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon amended an earlier claim of $10 million to $22.5 million.
And more notices of claims against the county and state are expected.