Arizona Republic: Thomas, A Gubernatorial Threat

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas 

The Republic has finally woken up three years into an Andrew Thomas administration to figure out that he has accomplished much in law enforcement while garnishing the popularity of many Arizonas. The Republic perceives Thomas as a realistic threat to Democrats holding on to the Governor’s office in 2010.

Not only has Thomas followed through on his election promises, but he has accomplished a lot more, including significant measures to combat illegal immigration. Until recently, Thomas has avoided the glare of nonstop media pummeling because he’s been in the shadow of Sheriff Arpaio and former Representative J.D. Hayworth, both well-known personalities known to be tough on illegal immigration. Not anymore. Thomas has established a solid reputation as a principled tough-as-nails prosecutor, wildly popular with Valley residents fatigued by Arizona’s high immigration-related crime rate.

Sunday’s article in the Republic was a classic example of media desperation to gin up a negative story about Thomas where there is no story, in order to keep the attacks on Thomas continuing. The reporters pieced together as many issues as they could find where they disagreed philosophically with Thomas, and spun their political disagreements as “problems” with Thomas. J.D. Hayworth did a nice job on his radio talk show today covering the various problems with the hit piece, including the fact that most of the article was just rewriting several stories they’d done on Thomas within the past couple of weeks. The article can’t name anything Thomas did wrong, no rules or laws were broken, so it takes several things and uses innuendos to create the impression something is wrong. For example, its repost of criticism from a few days earlier accusing Thomas of spending too much on outside counsel for the county attorney’s office. That article could have easily been spun the other way, praising Thomas for saving money by hiring attorneys like Wilenchik at lower rates of $185/hr, and saving money by taking cases to trial instead of settling in order to eliminate future lawsuits.

Another classic smear the article used was claiming Thomas holds too many press conferences. Yet the article fails to mention that similar officials like Attorney General Terry Goddard also receive criticism for holding too many press conferences. An article in today’s East Valley Tribune mentioned, “Thomas Zlaket, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court and now Johnson’s attorney, claims that Goddard often maximizes the publicity value of the indictments he brings. According to Zlaket, Goddard issues frequent news releases that amount to ‘nonstop public relations.'” The Republic purposely left out any mention that Goddard receives similar criticism because they want to do everything in their power to ensure that Goddard (or Democrat Mayor Gordon) becomes governor in 2010, not Thomas. If the Republic really had a problem with Thomas’s press conferences, why does it continue to cover them, frequently making them front page news? The Republic covered a press conference Thomas held on Sunday, but accused him in the article of only throwing the press conference in order to distract the media from its criticism of him. If that was true, then why did the Republic put the subject of the press conference – 5 indicted in the ‘Ziptie’ robberies – as the lead story in its Valley & State section? Obviously the story had value on its own


  1. SonoranSam says

    While I agree that Thomas is a viable candidate for Governor, your analysis rests on some shaky legs.

    If you think Thomas wasn’t damaged by the New Times debacle, you’re living on another planet. While special prosecutors are given some discretion, Thomas came across – rightly so – as asleep at the switch.

    Then there’s his love of press conferences, a passion he shares with his pal Sheriff Joe. All politicians hold them, and by definition they’re self-serving, but Thomas takes this practice to excess.

    I will give him props for one thing. When he finally woke up and realized that Wilinchek had screwed things up, he called a press conference and took responsibility – as he should.

    Yetyou condemn the Republic for covering all of his press conferences. That’s their job. We all know you’d be howling like a pack of coyotes if they failed to cover them.

    There’s one other point of hypocrisy that needs to be pointed out. Thomas is spending huge amounts of money on publicity campaigns disgused as public service announcements.

    When Napolitano did this, you guys had a fit. When Romley wasted millions on a slick “annual report” that was actually a high-buget publicity piece, he was roundly criticized.

    Once again, politicians do this kind of thing all the time, but Thomas is taking it to excess.

  2. I agree. I, like most voters, can’t really remember what Thomas campaigned for other than to be tough on crime. Well, it appears he is skilled at getting indictments, but less than skilled in getting convictions. Okay, blame his lawyers. But still, I think his record as a spokesman for the office far exceeds his record as a leader for the office. There is a difference.

  3. Sheriff Joe might not have recognized the fact yet, but his star is waning. Thomas climbed on the wrong horse.

  4. I think the conviction rate AT TRIAL is 90%. But it’s actually above average because Thomas did some reforms, like eliminating soft plea bargains. That would lead to more trials. Few people realize that plea bargains are the end result in like 95% of criminal cases. Yes, he has a lot of press conferences but you would to if you were prosecuting 40,000 felonies a year, many of which are of great interest to the public. Hence the news inquiries, hence the press conferences to make sure all media outlets are treated fairly, hence the many crime-related stories in the paper, tv and radio.

    And don’t you remember the 2004 signs that said STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? Thomas won based on that phrase alone, some might argue.

  5. I think a lot of conservatives like me are beginning to consider seriously whether we made a mistake in supporting Andrew Thomas for county attorney. There are lots of small reasons, but the big reason is that he is so egocentric that he preoccupies himself with attacking anyone whom he perceives as having slighted him personally, whether the people are conservatives, liberals, libertarians, or legal professionals. What’s particularly concerning is that he is organizing the power of his office to address his perceived political enemies. The New Times case is just an instance that got public attention. There are lots of details in that case that are very disturbing, but look at how the whole thing started. Thomas said he couldn’t prosecute the case because the New Times accused him of covering up election irregularities in a state legislative race and of possibly taking illegal campaign funding from a law firm. So what does Thomas do? He appoints the head of that law firm as a special prosecutor in the New Times case. That’s right, the same lawyer implicated with Thomas in the New Times articles. Thomas clearly had in mind to use the power of his office to go after his political enemies, all the while making a public display that he was such a professional by removing himself from the case. That’s Nixon at his worst.

  6. The New Times also has several detailed articles about how Andrew Thomas’s office has harmed the public safety because of its lack of criminal justice knowledge. According to one article, his office wasted months pursuing the wrong man for the serial murders, and the result was several more victims and prolonged terror as the psychopath ran free. I just read the article, and it is very well researched. It’s no wonder Andrew Thomas tried to have his political associate silence the New Times.

  7. I tried to warn everyone in 04…i was never a fan. And because of that I was called crazy. Maybe I am, but any man who is “pro-life” and writes an article for the WSJ claiming that women who work & put their children in daycare are no better than Susan Smith (the woman who strapped her kids to their car seats & plunged the car in the lake) is not someone I want as a leader of any sorts. What message does that send to women who HAVE to work? Not all women are blessed enough to have a legal eagle husband who can afford for them to stay home…
    The signs start small, such as that article, but in the end, we see that he is out for himself, and not looking out for the REAL people who voted him into office in the first place.

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