Guadalupe mayor faces felony charges, wonders about political payback

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- The mayor of the town of Guadalupe is fighting felony charges. The Arizona Attorney General's Office says she lied to obtain food stamps.

But Rebecca Jimenez thinks it's political payback. She was a vocal opponent to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration raids in 2009. She and her attorney are speculating whether that led to this investigation.
 
The town of Guadalupe uses the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for policing. In 2009, that relationship was strained.
 
“She ought to be happy that we're enforcing the law," Arpaio said at the time.
 
“If you are going to come here to harass our people,” Jimenez responded, “stay away.”
 
Jimenez is currently mayor of the small town between Chandler and Tempe.
 
"It's a witch hunt," she said in an interview before her arraignment Wednesday.
 
She faces four felony counts including theft and welfare fraud. The attorney general's office says in the indictment she lied to get food stamps.
 
"Given her background, given the timing and given where these allegations stem from, we certainly believe that there is something to investigate as being politically motivated,” said her attorney, Richard Gaxiola.
 
He is suggesting the charges stem from the mayor's opposition to the raids, which were supported by Attorney General Tom Horne.
 
MCSO said Wednesday that it was never a part of this investigation.
 
The AG's office released a statement saying, "The investigation was initiated by an anonymous complaint to the DES fraud hotline," and that "the mayor is seeing a grand conspiracy where none exists."
 
“I have a great attorney by my side,” Jimenez said. “I do not intend to step down as mayor."
 
3TV emailed all the other members of the Guadalupe City Council and has not received a response as to whether this will affect Jimenez’s duties as mayor.
 
Her next court date is Dec. 17.