PHOENIX -- The man who's trying to topple Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched a television ad Wednesday blasting the county's top lawman for the hundreds of botched sex crimes investigations that happened under his watch.
The 30-second commercial is narrated by a young actress playing the role of a girl who was sexually abused by her uncle. Although it’s a dramatization, officials with Paul Penzone's campaign say it’s based on an actual case in El Mirage.
"My uncle called it the tickle game, but after we played he told me he'd kill me if I told anyone," the narrator says at the beginning of the commercial. "My dad caught us and got really, really mad. I was scared."
Stacy Pearson, the spokeswoman for Penzone, said the ads would start running during Olympic coverage this weekend. Penzone is running as a Democrat in what is shaping up to be a three-way general election with Arpaio and independent Mike Stauffer.
Last year, Arpaio publicly apologized for more than 400 blown sex crimes investigations in El Mirage and other parts of the county. Those cases, which included dozens of alleged child molestations, were reopened.
The blown investigations took place during a three year period ending in 2007, a time when the sheriff started concentrating on illegal immigration. News of the investigations prompted politicians like Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva to call for Arpaio's resignation.
Representatives with the Arpaio campaign said they were shocked by Penzone's ad, and said these kinds of political tactics were "outrageous."
Chad Willems, who runs Arpaio's political operations, said, "its offensive that (Penzone) would reopen the wounds of these families for political gains."
"This is shameful and the people of Maricopa County should be outraged," Willems added.
But Arpaio is no stranger to hardball politics. In 2008, supporters of Arpaio ran television ads that accused his political opponent, Dan Saban, of lying about a rape, exposing himself to children, and masturbating while he was on-duty as a police officer.