Records released before Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s upcoming contempt of court hearings in Arizona show that the county’s sheriff office may have paid for some of an investigation into the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate, according to report from local news outlet CBS 5.
Though the controversial sheriff said in an unrelated July deposition hearing that his ongoing investigation into the president’s birth certificate “didn’t cost taxpayers any money” and was funded through donations to his posse, internal documents from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) may suggest otherwise.
According to CBS 5, “an MCSO memo, signed by Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan and dated August 15, 2014, approved payment for expenses” for Mike Zullo, a member of Arpaio’s posse who was in charge of the investigation, “to travel to Seattle with an MCSO detective to work on” it.
Arpaio admitted after launching the probe in 2012 that his office was sending deputies on trips related to his so-called investigation, claiming that he hoped “the agency will be paid back through private donations.” The costs of one trip to Hawaii totaled almost $10,000—an expense the county rejected private funds to offset that year.
Arpaio, who is facing a battle for re-election this November, has faced criticism over his investigation into the president’s birth certificate from his challenger, Democrat Paul Penzone, a retired Phoenix police sergeant.
The Arizona sheriff will face trial for contempt of court charges in December for violating a court order stemming from a 2007 racial profiling case. Arpaio intends to plead not guilty.