Feds looking at alleged civil-rights violations by supervisors

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PHOENIX -- The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is under federal investigation for alleged civil right violations.

Investigation under way

Feds investigating Maricopa Co. Board of Supervisors - Alleged civil rights violations have put the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors under investigation by the federal government.

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At issue is the board's failure to provide interpreters at public meeting for those who do not speak English.

The original complaint was filed the Department of Justice after a December 2007 meeting, but issues have been ongoing, especially with the recent spate of meetings to address the immigration policies of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

The probe started in March, but just came to light yesterday when County Attorney Andrew Thomas published a letter to the DOJ. In that letter, Thomas said one supervisor actually chastised a person for speaking Spanish. He also said officials have been trying to cover up the investigation. County officials say that's not true.

Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for programs that get federal money -- including county governments -- to discriminate against people based on race of national origin.

Thomas has asked the DOJ to expand its investigation beyond the alleged civil rights issue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.