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Eric Lach

Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Eric

Experts are now seriously questioning Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Louie Puroll's much-hyped tale of being shot by drug smugglers in a remote part of the Arizona desert. But even if every detail of Puroll's story is true, it still does not square with many of the claims the Sheriff's office has peddled about the case.

The department says the original criminal investigation "had concluded and the facts of the case confirmed the accounts of the event as Deputy Puroll described." And though the case has now been reopened, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told local news this week that he "absolutely" still believes his deputy. Beside Puroll and his alleged attackers, who were never found, there were no other witnesses to the event.

But in the immediate aftermath of the April incident, and to this day, Babeu and the department have made statements about the event that clash with the recorded account that Puroll gave to detectives on May 6, and which was released to the public in early July (audio here). These statements have included exaggerations and unverified information, and have been repeated often by Babeu as his national profile has grown as a voice on border security. Some of the claims have been walked back. Others have not.

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The much-hyped account of an Arizona sheriff's deputy attacked by border-crossing drug smugglers is being questioned, months after the fact.

On April 30, one week after Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed her state's controversial new immigration bill into law, a gun battle reportedly took place in a remote western part of Pinal County, Arizona, between a lone sheriff's deputy and a well-armed group of suspected drug smugglers. The deputy, Louie Puroll, was shot just above his left kidney, but survived, and his assailants were not found, despite an extensive search. The story spread quickly, was reported by major media outlets and was held up by border hawks as proof that Mexican drug violence was spilling into the country.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Arizona Immigration Law Sparks Protests]

But an exhaustive article published in the Phoenix New Times last week challenges the official story of what happened in the desert that day, and the Sheriff's office -- led by Paul Babeu, who has ridden this story and his appearance in John McCain's "danged fence" campaign ad to national prominence -- has now reopened its investigation of the case.

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The SEIU, Mi Familia Vota and America's Voice today launched a Spanish-language radio ad in six states, highlighting Republican opposition to the DREAM act, among other issues.

Officially titled the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, the Dream Act would allow a conditional permanent residency for students who graduate from high school and earn or are on track to earn a college degree. It would help potentially millions of illegal immigrants who were brought here illegally by their parents as young children and attended schools in the U.S. all their life.

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Americans are facing one of the toughest economies of their history, and finding a job just isn't what it used to be. In a move that appears to indicate a hiring freeze in the reality TV and Elvis impersonation industries, former Illinois governor and America's sweetheart Rod Blagojevich has landed a gig as a panelist during Advertising Week 2010, discussing his "unique take on trust."

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The Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff's Office has announced that it is reopening the case of a sheriff's deputy who was shot on April 30, after an article last week raised questions about the deputy's story that he'd been involved in a shoot-out with drug smugglers -- and just hours after telling TPM that the department stood by the original investigation.

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