By David Roney (originally posted on Lighthouse Blog)
Former Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Alexander faces disciplinary action for following orders from her boss, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. Whether or not you agree or disagree with Thomas’ office’s allegations against some of the county supervisors is irrelevant. The issue here is what appears to be nothing short of a political assassination of a dedicated employee and public servant in Alexander. Others who also worked on the racketeering suit have had no such allegations made against them, interestingly.
According the the Arizona Republic, “Alexander is charged with seven ethical violations stemming from her work on the racketeering suit. Charges include using means to burden or embarrass, filing and asserting a frivolous proceeding, and disobeying an obligation under the rules of a tribunal.”
Most of the above ethics charges stem from Alexander following orders from her boss. As a Maricopa County Attorney’s Office employee, anyone would and should feel comfortable that their boss, the duly elected County Attorney, was following the law, and that what he was directing his employee to do was legal. He was the county’s highest ranking lawyer, after all. So of course, if one is asked to file paperwork and pursue a case, an employee would do so, even if she objected. It was her job.
Alexander is being charged, despite a long, unblemished record at MCAO, solely for her role working on the RICO case. What was her role? She worked under her supervisor Pete Spaw’s direction. Shaw was an experienced RICO attorney who, according to my sources, started the drafts of the pleadings, finalized the drafts of the pleadings with Andrew Thomas, and developed the key theories in them. He exclusively dealt with opposing counsel, and filed all of the pleadings electronically. Alexander’s role consisted of mostly research for the pleadings, and taking direction from Spaw, nothing further. Yet Spaw was not charged by the Bar, only Alexander.
The “filing, asserting, & disobeying an obligation” charges are mostly just there for the purpose of piling on. The real issue here is the allegation that Alexander sought to burden and embarrass county supervisors. The allegation is nothing short of hilarious on its face, if anyone has ever heard or read a statement from Mary Rose Wilcox, or followed the Brock sex-scandal case, or followed the new court house boondoggle. The supervisors, with a few exceptions, have done a pretty good job of bringing poor press and embarrassment upon themselves. And they did so all without the help of Alexander.
But digging deeper, the charges against Alexander reek of fulfilling a vendetta for running a political blog, and a conservative one at that. Most of their unfettered discontent comes from blog posts they attribute to Alexander, that she in fact did not write. The Arizona State Bar is anything but a right-leaning organization, and it appears to seek to censor a person with whom they disagree, while leaving others untouched.
As Alexander’s attorney, Scott Zwillinger, says, “She was simply one lawyer of several assigned to a controversial matter, but unfortunately for her, she is the one now fighting for her career.”
Alexander will hopefully prevail in this matter, but the tragedy will remain that the Arizona State Bar used it’s power to try to silence a grass-roots activist with whom they have political disagreements. Arizona is not being served well in this, and its legal community is being embarrassed. And, of course, political blogging isn’t going anywhere…
And in case you’re wondering, here is Interrogatory that specifically targets Rachel Alexander for blogging.