Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox discusses the ethics hearing for former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas .
Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm Jose Cardenas. This week former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas took the stand in his ethics hearing. Thomas and two of his former deputy county attorneys, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander R. accused of ethical violations. The accusations include filing criminal and civil cases to burden rivals, or filing without probable cause or sufficient evidence. Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox was the first of three supervisors to testify in the hearing. In December of 2009, Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio accused her of taking business loans from an affiliate of a nonprofit while voting to approve grants to its parent organization. They also accused her of failing to list other business loans in annual financial disclosure forms. Earlier this year an out of county prosecutor concluded there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case against Wilcox. We'll talk to supervisor Wilcox and her attorney about the ethics hearing in a moment, but first here's some of Wilcox's testimony from the hearing.
Mary Rose Wilcox: My whole life was painted with a brush that said I was a criminal. Basically I felt that everything that could be done to tarnish my reputation was done in that indictment. I felt that he did not try to even establish a relationship with the board. I felt that the interpretation of the immigration matter was something I did not agree with. But I also felt that he was very argumentative with our board. I don't know if I can run for political office again, because anybody who runs against me will throw all this up. People will never know whether the truth is out there or not.
Jose Cardenas: With me now is Maricopa County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Supervisor Wilcox, welcome back to "Horizonte."
Jose Cardenas: Thank you.
Jose Cardenas: The focus of your testimony was on the impact that the indictment and the investigations had, and we saw a little bit of your testimony here. You talked first about the tarnishing of your reputation.
Mary Rose Wilcox: Even watching it, it's very, very emotional. What happened to me shouldn't happen to anybody. I knew getting into politics there's a rough and tumble of politics, and there's the give and take. But when somebody comes after you for your views and they come after you in a way that is above the rule, doesn't even adhere to the rule of law, you just don't even know how to handle it. When I got indicted, it just shook my whole world. I had doubts, I said am I really this person they're saying I am any knew I wasn't, I knew I had done nothing wrong, but they basically came after me. Thomas and Arpaio came after me because of my views on immigration.
Jose Cardenas: I want to talk about that. On the impact of the indictment, and you mentioned this - the suggestion was made by some of the people who are now under investigation themselves, that hey, this is politics, and we play hard ball, and you've been a politician for a long time, so it's not that big of a deal.
Mary Rose Wilcox: I've never seen politics enacted the way they've been at Maricopa County in the last few years. What happened is two very corrupt people in my mind, Andrew Thomas and Joe Arpaio, got together, it was a prosecutor and a person who was supposed to enforce the law and protect people, came together to just intimidate, harass, and try to get the board of supervisors and a few seating judges out of office.
Jose Cardenas: And in your case, you believe, and you testified that it's because of your position on immigration. What evidence do you have of that?
Mary Rose Wilcox: I have a lot of evidence Jose. When I started speaking out against immigration, when Andrew Thomas got elected, he came in on the backs of undocumented community. What he said is, I am going to come in and fight illegal immigration, and I'm going to make it very, very hard for people in this -- to be here illegally in this country. First of all that wasn't even the charge of the county prosecutor. They are supposed to prosecute people, and put people in jail when crimes are committed. But he did that, and Joe Arpaio, who loves publicity, which Andrew Thomas was getting, joined him in it. And when they came together as a force, all hell broke loose in Maricopa County. Sheriff Arpaio started going out on raids, Andrew Thomas would not rein him in, started arresting people left and right. For all kinds of reasons, but mainly because their skin was brown. And I had to speak up. I've been elected official now 28 years. I'm not going to sit there silently while this rein of terror was going on. And sheriff Arpaio made it very clear to me, he came to a board meeting --
Jose Cardenas: Along with Andrew Thomas I understand?
Mary Rose Wilcox: Along with Andrew Thomas, and Sheriff Arpaio basically said, I commend my other four colleagues who had not gone against him in immigration
Jose Cardenas: The four supervisors?
Mary Rose Wilcox: Yes, but Mary rose, you are wrong, and I will make you suffer for it. We have him on tape, and he just continued for about five minutes, because our chairman would not stop him, to just tell me that I was wrong, and that he was right, and that I would suffer for it.
Jose Cardenas: It was after that that things started happening?
Mary Rose Wilcox: After that things started happening. He started remarking in public that he would come after me. And I started getting nervous. Fortunately I have a very supportive husband; we got a very good attorney, Colin Campbell, who you'll meet in a minute, who just helped me get through all this. When I was indicted, I could not believe I was indicted. I could not believe they would stoop to such pettiness. They knew I did nothing wrong, but they indicted me to try to shut me off, to try to take me off the board. And they didn't realize that the strength of my community, the strength of my convictions, my faith in God, would pull me through. When you know you've done nothing wrong but the whole world things you have or they're wondering and speculating, have you to be very strong. And it takes a lot of strength to do that. It takes people who will back you up, but more importantly you have to dig deep into yourself. Nobody should have to go through that. That is why so many people don't want to be in political office, and it is my hope that what happens in this case that is going on right now with the bar, will set a lesson for people. You cannot be in a public office and misuse it.
Jose Cardenas: We're talking about the state bar disciplinary proceedings. The indictment was the most serious thing that happened, but there were other things that happened that you testified about, being followed and so forth.
Mary Rose Wilcox: That was why, one of the things that happened when I testified, I can only speak on my testimony, because -- about the rules of the court. When I testified, everything came back to me. We used to have people picket my restaurant who were friends of Joe Arpaio and said I was doing wrong on immigration. We had vans sitting outside my restaurant that people thought they were being recorded as they came into the restaurant. It ruined our business. We had people who came in that were wired, and trying to get my husband or I to say something that would maybe cause another indictment. We had people parked outside our building. But more important, what really hurt and was causing such mental anguish is the community was so confused. Here's a person who's been elected 28 years, what are they saying is right, it is wrong? And when I was cleared of the charges, when they were saying there's nothing to indict here, that helped a lot. Many people in the community would never believe it, but you can't help but think that the tarnish, they wanted to do to me, the brush they painted that said I was criminal, that will stick with a lot of people.
Jose Cardenas: I want to end our interview on that note. You commented on it at the hearing. That is, the impact on your future ability to run for office. Do you think this cripples you in that regard?
Mary Rose Wilcox: I hope it doesn't. I enjoy serving the public. I think the public has shown me 10 times they want to elect me. But who knows? In this day of media, of this day of instant responses, of some of the back fight that's goes on in campaigns, I have to -- if I decide to run for elected office, which I'm leaning toward doing, I feel I have to prepare myself and my family.
Jose Cardenas: Because this will all come up.
Mary Rose Wilcox: This is all going to come up. We just have to say, you know it's not true, the community knows it's not true, so nobody is going to believe you. But it's going to be hard.
Jose Cardenas: Supervisor Wilcox, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."
Mary Rose Wilcox: Thank you very much.
Mary Rose Wilcox:Maricopa County Supervisor;