Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio has never been described as a nice man, but an audio recording of Arpaio made in September, 2009, in Houston, Texas, really drives home exactly what kind of person Joe Arpaio really is…probably in line to be the most infamous sheriff since that nasty guy in Nottingham.
The speech he gave at a fundraiser for an anti-illegal immigrant group came shortly after the Justice Department started investigating allegations of misconduct brought against Arpaio’s department by the Hispanic community in Maricopa County. Arpaio ridiculed the politicians who initiated the investigation and was contemptuous of the investigators.
He bragged about not co-operating with the investigation, but promising to tone down the sweeps he conducted using a combination of his deputies and volunteers, but “After they went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite.” The audience laughed over that one. Half of the people his sweeps arrested turned out to be legal immigrants or natural citizens, but it could take days for Arpaio to release them.
Arpaio, in an interview last week, defended the speech as “strictly a speech that when I’m talking to certain groups, they like to hear what I have to say, because they know I’m under the gun.” It might be more accurate to say they like to hear how he stands up to the Feds, which is viewed as an enemy by many.
The investigation isn’t a laughing matter. The Maricopa Sheriff’s Office has been accused of not investigating rapes of Hispanic women, profiling Hispanics and harassing Hispanics. His “immigrant sweeps” violated laws. He held the people gathered up in the sweeps in outdoor pens, his personal Gitmo, and made his detainees wear pink underwear. He has been incriminated in a series of “investigations” and prosecutions targeting political opponents, using his “anti-public corruption” squad. The cases he and Andrew Thomas brought collapsed in court and Thomas has been disbarred by a state ethics committee.
At the time of the speech in Houston, Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley had been criminally charged in the Arpaio-Thomas. Arpaio told the audience, “We have already indicted one, so I am not their favorite guy. The county has cut my budget $35 million just for spite, but I’m still locking them all up. I have ways to get the job done.” Sharpley’s attorney, Paul Charlton, has listened to the tape and characterized the comment as a confession. “He is drawing the nexus himself between the budget cut of $35 million and an investigation of the Board of Supervisors. A threat to lock them up, which in fact he did.”
Arpaio also made fun of the Justice Department, boasted about kicking civil rights investigators out of his office, said that his re-election campaign received $50,000 in donations after Rev. Al Sharpton visited Arizona and suggested that he might subpoena the President to testify if a civil rights case was brought against him. This past winter, Arpaio pulled together a team of volunteers to determine that the President’s birth certificates were forgeries. He ended the speech in Houston signing copies of one of his books.
Democratic State Representative Steve Gallardo said the speech proves that “This is not about enforcing our laws. This is about going after human beings. This is about targeting elected officials. This is about, exactly, using immigrants as props or pawns in his own world.” Arpaio has turned his office into a platform to get himself titled “The Toughest Sheriff In America,” and an American “hero.” Trashing the Constitution is not heroic, its fascist.
Arpaio has only one regret about this audio tape surfacing. He says he used the wrong number for the illegals he arrested “just for spite.” Sheriff Joe now claims “It was wrong. It wasn’t 500. It was thousands.”
The Justice Department has been investigating this man for over two years. It is time to throw the Constitution at him, preferably a copy with annotations and cross-references to the Federalist Papers, very well bound in Corinthian leather on the heaviest paper available.