The non-profit has an interesting story that led to its initial launch. Joe Arpaio, the then Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, arrested and held the two co-founders. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are media executives and co-founders of the fund. They run the Phoenix New Times and the sister publication the Village Voice Media. The co-founders used their media avenues to highlight discrimination, abuse of civil rights and financial malpractices at the local county office.
The journalists were subpoenaed to reveal the sources of their stories including reporter’s notes, which they went on to write about as well. Joe Arpaio arrested them in a move that was widely seen as a clampdown on their efforts exposing discriminative practices, mismanagement, and abuse of office. The county came under intense pressure to release the journalists, and they were set free the next day.
The reporters then sued Joe Arpaio as well as Maricopa County in 2007. The protracted court battle that ensued for more than ten years ended at the Ninth Circuit. The court advised in favor of the First Amendment. It ruled the subpoenas that started the whole case were not procedural. Consequently, the US Court Of Appeal awarded the journalists $3.7 million as the settlement to be paid by Maricopa County.
This came as a huge blow to Joe Arpaio and his supporters, especially in the 2014-midterm elections. The funds were used to establish the Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund, a non-profit that supports human and civil rights as well as migrant rights. It supports organizations promoting civil rights in Arizona and fighting abuses such as racial profiling and discrimination with a strong focus on the Hispanic community in the state.
Jim Larkin reiterates that he grew up in a giving society and is proud to contribute back in the same spirit. The organization works with groups with an active presence in the state and advocating for aligned causes. It is dedicated to protecting migrant rights in the state through multiple direct initiatives. It donates to organizations such as the Colibri Center for Human Rights, Promise Arizona, Raul Castro Institute and American Immigration Council among others.
In like manner, the two journalists are passionate about defending their rights under the First Amendment. They undertake numerous investigative assignments fearlessly. The journals have also adopted a bold approach to reporting, features, and reviews. The two media executives work in close collaboration with Michael Lacey heading the production and technical aspects of the business, while Jim Larkin takes care of advertising and circulation.