NEW YORK – In a setback to the Obama administration’s determined efforts to discredit Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix has announced that a criminal investigation against the only law enforcement officer who has publicly challenged Barack Obama’s eligibility be dropped.

The announcement also boosts Arpaio’s re-election campaign in which he already holds a substantial lead both in fundraising and in the polls, running for his sixth term as sheriff against three lesser-known challengers.

The legal victory for Arpaio is also a blow against Attorney General Eric Holder in what is shaping up to be an epic political battle between Obama and the sheriff over illegal immigration and his probe of presidential eligibility requirements.

The Department of Justice announcement came on Friday, typically a slow news day, especially going into the Labor Day weekend, while Arpaio was flying home to Phoenix from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

“I’m glad they threw it all off,” Arpaio said in a news conference from his office. “I’ve been a federal official all over the world and I know how the federal system operates. I never had any doubts. I’m happy the Department of Justice local U.S. attorney and FBI who were involved in this prolonged investigation came out and found those allegations could not be substantiated and cleared my office of any wrong-doing or abuse of power.”

“If I had done something wrong, there would be indictments all over the place,” Arpaio said. “The bottom line is that we were cleared. We should stay with that and not get into all the politics involved.”

A terse three-paragraph press release issued by U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo in Phoenix gave no reason for dropping the investigation into allegations of criminal conduct by Arpaio, former county attorney Andrew Thomas and top aides.

A four-page letter from attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel in Leonardo’s office detailed the specifics of why there was insufficient evidence in a list of wide-ranging allegations to bring criminal charges involving Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office extradition policies, travel policies and cash-handling policies.

The allegations trace back to efforts Arpaio’s office has made, often in conjunction with the Maricopa county attorney’s office, to bring corruption charges against various Arizona state officials, including two members of the Board of Supervisors, the governmental body responsible for oversight over the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office – Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley, both determined Arpaio foes.

As WND previously reported, pressure to bring federal criminal charges against Arpaio began to mount after the the disbarment of Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas and Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Aubuchon, in a series of complicated moves involving corruption charges against Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe and the two members of the Board of Supervisors.

The corruption charges against Wilcox and Stapley were never adjudicated after a Pima County judge dismissed the case due to prosecutorial misconduct.

But as many as 11 Maricopa County employees have been terminated in recent months for allegedly accepting bribes in a court tower construction scandal. The case was one of the Thomas investigations that was terminated by the counter-attack that resulted in the disbarment decision.

In addition, a grand jury brought more than 100 charges against Stapley for a wide variety of alleged criminal activities, including failing to file financial disclosures and accepting expensive gifts, such as three-week Hawaiian vacations and expensive ski trips for himself and his family.

Arpaio’s opponents in Arizona had been pressing for a federal criminal grand jury to press charges against Stapley for his involvement with Thomas in trying to root out corruption in Maricopa County.

Arpaio still faces a class-action civil-rights lawsuit brought by a small group of Latinos as well as a federal civil case in which Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice has charged Arpaio with implementing in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office a systematic policy of racial discrimination against Hispanics.

The Obama administration, under the leadership of DOJ civil rights division head Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, has decided to support an Arizona-based coalition of open-border activists led by professional “community organizer” Randy Parraz.

Last year, Parraz masterminded the campaign to defeat Russell Pearce, the long-time president of the Arizona state senate, the architect of Arizona’s tough immigration law known as SB 1070.

More recently, Parraz has announced his intention to remove Arpaio from office.

WND has cited evidence of possible coordination between Perez and Parraz:

On December 14, 2011, radical attorney/activist Randy Parraz appeared with about 100 members of his Citizens for a Better Arizona at a meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in an attempt to get his complaints against Arpaio placed on the agenda, all as part of a strategy to force the Board of Supervisors to vote to demand Arpaio’s resignation.

The next day, Dec. 15, 2011, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez held a surprise national press conference first announced that morning to present a 22-page complaint charging the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office with systematic violations of the civil rights of Hispanics.

“People’s lives have been damaged and hurt and violated by the sheriff,” Parraz told the Arizona Republic upon learning no federal criminal charges would be brought against Arpaio. “It is unfortunate that they are going to walk away and not pursue any of these things. It sends the wrong message that they haven’t done anything wrong, which serves [Arpaio] well in an election year.”

At a press conferences held in Phoenix March 1, Arpaio announced the Cold Case Posse investigating Obama’s eligibility to be president had probable cause to suspect Obama’s long-form birth certificate and his Selective Service draft registration card were forgeries.

At a second press conference held in Phoenix July 17, Arpaio announced two computer experts, independently performing over 600 tests each, were unable to replicate without manipulating the files the various anomalies observed in the electronic PDF long-form birth certificate the White House released on April 27, 2011, providing additional evidence Obama’s birth certificate is a computer-generated forgery, not a scan of an original 1961 document.

Mike Zullo, the lead investigator in the Obama investigation, has affirmed to WND that Sheriff Arpaio’s investigation into Obama’s eligibility to be president is continuing, with additional findings expected to be made public before the Nov. 6 election.

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