Friday, April 2, 2010

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas resigns to run for Attorney General; posts video about his future

PHOENIX, ARIZONA. April 1, 2010.  With crime and illegal immigration down dramatically in Maricopa County, a possible run byMaricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas for Arizona Attorney General has been one of the biggest questions in Arizona politics.  That question has now been answered via video at 

Thomas announced today he is resigning as Maricopa County Attorney to run for Attorney General of Arizona.  To allow for a proper transition, his resignation will become effective in a few days.  April 6th will be his last day in office.
Thomas said recent events have made clear the need for strong leadership statewide in the fight against crime and illegal immigration.  The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for the state. 
The video released today shows Thomas walking with Cochise County Sheriff along the border with Mexico in Cochise County.  Thomas and Sheriff Larry Dever met and discussed the border crisis on March 29th, two days after the murder of Robert Krentz, a long-time rancher in Cochise County.  This visit had been scheduled prior to the murder.  Krentz was murdered while trying to assist what he assumed to be an illegal immigrant in distress.
Sheriff Dever has endorsed Thomas for Attorney General.  Quotes from Thomas and Dever are available on the video.
Thomas first ran for Maricopa County Attorney in 2004 on a platform vowing to “Stop Illegal Immigration.”  And by all indications and measures illegal immigration has been substantially reduced, along with crime in general, in part due to 
Thomas’ commitment to longer criminal sentences and a crackdown on soft plea bargains for criminals.  

Thomas will run as a “Clean Elections” candidate for the Republican nomination.  A candidate for Attorney General must collect 2,775 $5 contributions to qualify for Clean Elections funding.  Thomas has collected more than 3,000, along with thousands of signatures.  He will continue to collect $5 contributions and thousands of additional signatures in the coming weeks.
“April 1st seemed an appropriate day to announce my intentions, since Arizona Republicans won't be fooled by conservative impostors also interested in this office.  And Arizonans won’t be fooled by liberal candidates who are 
unproven crime fighters,” Thomas said.  

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has endorsed Thomas’ run for Attorney General.  

“County Attorney Thomas has dedicated his life to successfully fighting crime. Just as he has helped to reduce crime in Maricopa County I have every expectation he will help do so in every part of our state as Attorney General,” Arpaio said.  

Besides an aggressive posture against illegal immigration, Thomas’ office successfully prosecuted the Baseline Killer and Serial Shooting suspects.  During his tenure he has pushed for harsher penalties against child predators and, more recently, launched an innovative program to restore Gila River habitat and pursue charges against environmental pollution there.  He is in favor of the death penalty and has been criticized by defense lawyers for his strong enforcement efforts.  He has tackled tough public corruption cases and led innovative programs to ensure better food safety and crack down on graffiti and cruelty to animals. 

Thomas is married with four children.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.  Prior to serving as Maricopa County Attorney, Thomas served as an assistant attorney general for Arizona, deputy counsel and criminal justice policy advisor to the Governor, special assistant to the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, and a deputy county attorney.  

During Thomas' time in office, crime rates have plummeted.  The 19 percent drop is more than twice the national rate of decline, and this despite an 11 percent increase in the county's population during that time.  The illegal immigrant population has dropped by anywhere from 18 percent (Dept. of Homeland Security estimate) to 30 percent (Center for Immigration Studies estimate).  Like the fall in crime rates, this dramatic decline in illegal immigration is far greater than the average in the rest of the nation.  

Thomas will not be conducting any interviews with Arizona media until Friday. He is meeting with his staff at the County Attorney's Office today to coordinate the transition.  His office will release a letter to Governor Brewer and Maricopa County officials regarding his resignation later today.  
To schedule an interview please contact Jason Rose. 

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