After being pardoned by Trump, Joe Arpaio will seek a seventh term for sheriff of Maricopa County

Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 after he refused to stop racial profiling as the county sheriff

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 26, 2019 9:36AM (EDT)

Joe Arpaio in "Who Is America?" (Showtime)
Joe Arpaio in "Who Is America?" (Showtime)

Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2017 after being convicted of criminal contempt, announced Sunday that he will seek a seventh term in the law enforcement post in 2020.

"Arpaio noted that the date of this announcement is important to him, as he is celebrating [his wife] Ava’s birthday on Aug. 25, and it also happens to be the date that President Trump pardoned him on a scurrilous misdemeanor contempt charge filed by President Obama’s administration," a statement posted by the former sheriff on Twitter said.

It added, "When he is back in office, Sheriff Arpaio will re-open Tent City Jail and bring back his popular jail policies, reinstitute the Posse to its former strength and continue to enforce all Arizona laws that deal with drug trafficking, sex trafficking and other crimes associated with the border and illegal immigration."

Taking a page out of Trump's political playbook, the announcement also anticipated how Arpaio would be criticized by the media, preemptively attacking the erstwhile law enforcement official's journalistic critics.

"Sheriff Arpaio and his wife realize that during the past several years, his opponents, activists and political figures on the left have utilized slanderous attacks on him through the fake and biased news media to try and keep him from being heard, but these efforts have failed," the announcement stated. "However, he expects these attacks will continue in full force, even more so with today’s announcement."

The statement closed with a clear reference to Trump's political messaging by writing, "Sheriff Arpaio’s primary mission in running for Sheriff again is to 'Make Maricopa County Safe Again.'"

Arpaio's 24-year tenure as Maricopa County sheriff was extremely controversial as a result of his insistence to use racial profiling (costing the city tens of millions of dollars due to a lawsuit), squalid prison conditions and an agenda that many viewed as more focused on achieving right-wing ideological goals on issues like immigration rather than protecting the citizens of Maricopa County.

Despite — or perhaps because of — this record, Arpaio has been very popular with Trump and his supporters. Last year, Vice President Mike Pence praised the former sheriff during an event promoting the president's tax cuts by saying, "I just found out when I was walking through the door that we were also going to be joined by another favorite, a great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law, who spent a lifetime in law enforcement."

He added, "I’m honored to have you here."

Meanwhile, Trump himself praised Arpaio's record when pardoning him in 2017, saying in a statement that "throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a presidential pardon."

Arpaio has returned the affection, thanking Trump for pardoning him in a tweet saying that Trump was "seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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