When former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Apraio arrested veteran newsman Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, it was the climax of a long-standing feud. The newsmen had hounded the Sheriff relentlessly, their reporters engaged in a smear campaign that gained nationwide coverage.
Apraio’s treatment of the Latino community over illegal immigration had always raised eyebrows, but as soon as the media got involved a lot more light was shed. The Phoenix New Times, founded back in the 70’s by Lacey, was instrumental in uncovering numerous scandals involving Arpaio. The Sheriff’s response was a full scale investigation into the paper and its reporters.
The feud between the newsmen and the Sheriff was well known. At the time it began Lacey and Larkin had already founded Village Voice Media, their nationwide conglomerate of alternative weeklies.
The former founders of Phoenix New Times still managed the paper, but their conglomerate allows stories on Apraio to gain national attention. The Sheriff garnered a serious of grand jury subpoenas which he issued to the paper.
Lacey and Larkin were arrested in 2007 after printing one of those confidential grand jury subpoenas under their combined byline. The printing was meant to show the world how unconstitutional the subpeona’s were.
The arrest sparked outrage that led to the duos eventual release. Later on Lacey and Larkin would sue for wrongful arrest, netting a #3.75 million dollar payout in 2013. Since then the two have quietly supported the Latino community through the Frontera Fund which they founded in 2014. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Jim Larkin | Crunchbase
The fund uses the payout to finance migrant rights groups across Arizona. It has been instrumental in combating Arpaio’s leftover policies and tenets. Arpaio went on to be implicated in Melendres vs. Maricopa County. The outset of which saw the Sheriff indicted for criminal contempt of court and jailed.
Now Arpaio has received a presidential pardon and is looking at the U.S. Senate, so the feud will once again commence. Lacey and Larkin have just launched a new alternative news site called Front Page Confidential.
The site advocates free speech by printing stories in support of the First Amendment. It also has an Arpaio section ready to go. Now past grievances will stand beside new atrocities as their coverage of Apraio’s senate run begins. Who knows what the climax to round two will be.