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Maverick Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is challenging the Obama administration’s Department of Justice to present evidence to back its charge that his office is discriminating against Hispanics.

“Prove it,” Arpaio said in remarks directed at Holder in an interview with WND.

“If Eric Holder has evidence that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has engaged in systematic violations of the civil rights of Hispanics, then show me the evidence,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio contends that the 22-page complaint the Department of Justice released Dec. 15 against his office was nothing more than anecdotal and didn’t prove there are systematic sheriff’s department policies aimed at depriving Hispanics in Maricopa County of their civil rights.

Nor was Arpaio concerned that the DOJ might take him and his sheriff’s department to federal court.

“If the Justice Department wants to take me to court, I’m ready,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio was responding to a statement emailed today to WND in which the DOJ threatened to go to court immediately rather than show Arpaio’s office and the U.S. public the evidence it claims to have.

“If MCSO wants to debate the facts instead of fixing the problems stated in our findings, we will do so by way of litigation,” DOJ said in the statement.

The statement implied the DOJ already has rejected an offer of cooperation made yesterday by attorneys representing MCSO in a cover letter to the MCSO 38-page response to the DOJ complaint.

In the cover letter, Arpaio attorney Joseph J. Popolizio made it clear that the sheriff was willing to cooperate with Holder and the DOJ, but only if the DOJ revealed to the MCSO and the public its proof.

“Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and the MCSO are certainly interested in constructive dialogue, but constructive dialogue can only occur if the DOJ provides the facts and information on which it bases its findings,” Popolizio wrote.

Nothing more than a political attack?

Arpaio also took exception to the DOJ assertion that the federal investigation against his office began under the Bush administration.

“There may have been complaints filed with the Justice Department under the Bush administration,” Arpaio conceded, “but we were first notified in March 2009 – in the Obama administration’s first 100 days – that the Department of Justice had begun a formal investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.”

Arpaio pointed out that after three years of cooperating with the Justice Department investigation, his office was given only one-hour’s advance notice that the report was going to be released.

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