Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is more than two years away from his next election, but he has spent more money campaigning in recent months than almost any candidate running in Arizona this year.
Only Sen. John McCain and wealthy gubernatorial candidate Buz Mills have spent more money. Both Republicans, however, are in red-hot primary races that go to the polls next month.
Arpaio, meanwhile, doesn’t face his next contest until the second half of 2012. Yet his most-recent financial disclosure shows the Republican sheriff has already spent $671,318 on his campaign.
By contrast, Gov. Jan Brewer, arguably the most popular politician in the state right now, has spent just $135,886 in her fight to keep the seat.
Records show most of Arpaio’s money has gone to the Summit Consulting Group, a Phoenix firm that’s been managing a huge nationwide fundraising blitz for him.
Carried by Arpaio’s popularity with conservatives nationwide, the effort has shattered Maricopa County fundraising records by bringing in $2.5 million, much of it coming from out of state.
From April 2009 through May 2010, Summit received $600,765 for the campaign. It’s not clear precisely how the money was spent, with most of the payments, 35 in all, listed as simply “Fund raising, consulting, adm” on Arpaio’s disclosure forms.
Summit’s president Chad Willems did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and Arpaio could not be reached.
The latest disclosure, which was filed June 22, shows the sheriff’s supporters gave him $1.2 million in just the first five months of this year.
That’s double the $610,000 he raised back in 2008 when he last won an election. That campaign was believed at the time to be the most expensive in Maricopa County history.
Most of Arpaio’s fundraising this year took place as he was flirting with a run for governor. Had he run, Arpaio could have shifted the money from his campaign for sheriff into the gubernatorial bid. He ultimately ruled out the run for higher office on May 3.