About four decades ago, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey dropped out of Arizona State University. They leveraged a college campus paper into a national publication that had spread all around the United States. Lacey was the executive editor and Larkin was the CEO of Village Voice Media. Read more: Michael Lacey | Facebook and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
In its heyday, Village Voice Media consisted of seventeen publications, including the Village Voice from New York City. In 2013, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey sold the New York newspaper to the people who now own it—Voice Media Group. The college campus paper that started it all was started in 1970 as a result of outrage over the Kent State murders.
In 1992, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey met their match as Sheriff Arpaio was elected to the office of Sheriff in Maricopa County. Sheriff Arpaio quickly became well known as his not-so-lovely antics were publicized.
He forced prisoners to eat rotten fruit and green baloney, made male inmates wear pink jumpsuits to make them feel embarrassed and exposed inmates to the worst conditions that one could think of.
In 2004, a man who wrote for one of Lacey and Larkin’s publications, the Phoenix New Times, published information abut Sheriff Arpaio’s property ownership. John Dougherty, the reporter, reported that Sheriff Arpaio and his wife owned about $700,000 worth of commercial land.
This information was not available in public records, since there is a law in Arizona stating that the ownership of such land should not be disclosed for the safety of judges and law enforcement officials.
Arpaio’s place of residence was also disclosed in the publication. Even though Arpaio’s residence was already available via public records, the publication of his address was interpreted as some sort threat against him and his loved ones.
The sheriff was so enraged by the fact that his place of residence was published that he spent three years trying to get Dougherty into trouble.
There was a statute in the state of Arizona saying that publishing the address of a law enforcement official was punishable if it was perceived as some sort of threat against that law official’s safety.
This mess manifested itself in the arrest of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, owners of the publication that Dougherty worked for. Their arrests spurred a lot of public outrage. This public outrage came in the form of stories that were published in The New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today.