By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Since 1990, the state had been treating a rare and devastating genetic disorder within the polygamous sect. Although some 8,000 strong, approximately half the community was primarily descended from only two families who had intermarried with abandon. Fumarese Deficiency was occurring within this isolated sect with the greatest concentration in the world. At the time of the series, about 20 children were afflicted.
"Victims suffer a range of symptoms, including severe epileptic seizures, inability to walk or even sit upright, severe speech impediments, failure to grow at a normal rate, and tragic physical deformities," noted Dougherty in one article.
The community was receiving $12 million annually to pay for health-insurance premiums.
Before Dougherty was done, the FLDS would come under intense government scrutiny. Their leader, Warren Jeffs, was placed upon the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.
Yet both as Arizona Attorney General and governor, Napolitano was more than ineffective in the face of this crisis. She was silent.
Although the FLDS is a breakaway cult from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many current members of mainstream Mormonism have decidedly mixed feelings regarding their history of polygamy. Furthermore, politically active Mormons continue to exercise huge political sway in Arizona. During Dougherty's series, church members held the key legislative chairs in the state, including Senate President Ken Bennett and Speaker of the House Jake Flake. Flake was, in fact, the descendent of a prominent polygamist patriarch.
The last time an Arizona governor had tried to go after the polygamists, it was a political disaster. In 1953, Governor Howard Pyle was voted out of office after he raided the polygamous community of Short Creek.
Napolitano's dithering suggested she was too concerned about political fallout to act decisively.
The governor's office, frustrated at the repeated questioning of her seeming inability to act, lashed out at Dougherty.
"We can't fix every problem at once," the governor's spokeswoman, Jeanine L'Ecuyer, famously responded to one of the reporter's questions. "The question [of what to do] is a big one. It's a broad one, and it's a difficult one to answer."
Napolitano never did, in fact, solve the issue. She never addressed any part of the problem.
In 2002, a spokesman for then-Attorney General Napolitano told Dougherty her office had an investigator on the polygamy situation five separate times. Napolitano's grand jury proved inconclusive.
As law-enforcement scrutiny lingered over years, residents of the two border towns began to build fortifications. Prophet Jeffs vowed never to be taken alive.
"Does he have bodyguards? Yes. Are they armed? Yes. Will they put down their lives for him? Yes," one investigator told Dougherty.
"You know damn good and well nobody wants to go there," said Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson in 2005. "Everyone is damn afraid of another Waco."
In her entire tenure as Arizona's attorney general and governor, Janet Napolitano assigned one part-time worker from Child Protective Services to face the polygamy issues.
In 2005, other authorities took matters into their hands.
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, as well as Arizona's Mohave County Attorney and Utah's Washington County Attorney, moved to end the abuse. Arizona Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne joined in the legal assault.
In January 2006, federal agents raided the community and served 66 grand-jury subpoenas.
"Today, we have sent a message to Warren Jeffs that those marriages will not be tolerated, and we have also sent a message to the young women in Colorado City that they are entitled to the protection of the law," said one prosecutor after the conviction of church leader Ron Barton.
Jeffs was arrested Aug. 31, 2006, while on the run on a Nevada interstate. He was in possession of 16 cell phones, disguises, a dozen pairs of sunglasses, three wigs and $55,000 in cash.
He was tried and convicted on two counts of rape in September 2007. He was sentenced to two five-years-to-life terms to be served concurrently.
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As Arizona's top executive, Governor Napolitano carved her niche as a champion of children.
We ask those who trumpet her nomination to Obama's cabinet: But who is against children?
It is not a facetious question. In any case, Arizona's metrics that measure educational achievement are as low as they are irrelevant to the job at hand. All-day kindergarten has less than nothing to do with Homeland Security.
As she is an advocate for the smallest among us, so ,too, we assume she is steadfast against terrorism.
Her abilities on that front are a mystery.
What we know, and what she is known for, is that along with President Bush, she militarized our border with Mexico by deploying thousands of National Guard troops.
And this year, the Guard was replaced by a vastly expanded Border Patrol.
Hovering at about 16,000 officers, the Border Patrol is a force to be reckoned with.
"There are 6 million people who live on the American side of our border with Mexico," the Border Action Network's Allen said in a recent conversation. "They live there, hunt there, hike there. We now have a climate of fear."
Allen noted that in Douglas, Arizona, roughly 15,000 people reside and are under the watchful—and occasionally intrusive—eye of 500 Border Patrol agents.