The audience at President Donald Trump’s Phoenix rally on August 22 might have been big fans of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but most voters in Maricopa County are not. Arpaio was voted out of office in November, even as Trump won the county.
According to the results from Maricopa Country Recorder Adrian Fontes, Arpaio lost to Democrat Paul Penzone, 56 percent to 43 percent. Arpaio’s results were far behind Trump, who got 47.67 percent of the vote, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 44.83 percent.
|Joe Arpaio (R)||43.48||665,581|
|Paul Penzone (D)||56.29||861,757|
Here are the results for President from Maricopa County:
|Donald Trump (R)||47.67||747,361|
|Hillary Clinton (D)||44.83||702,907|
|Gary Johnson (L)||4.28||67,043|
|Jill Stein (G)||1.24||19,432|
In November 2016, Arpaio was running for his seventh term in office. He was first elected in 1993 and easily won previous elections. But in 2012, there were signs of his popularity cracking as his controversial tactics and hard-line stance against immigration made “America’s Toughest Sheriff” a national figure. In 2012, Penzone earned 44.7 percent of the vote, a 2.5 percent jump over the 2008 Democratic candidate. By comparison, Arpaio was re-elected in 2000 with 66.5 percent of the vote.
In his concession letter, Arpaio congratulated Penzone on his victory and looked “forward to working with him on a seamless transition.”
After his election in 1993, Arpaio became known nationally for his tough stance on crime and treatment of inmates. For example, a year after his election, he built “Tent City,” forcing inmates to live outside in tents even during 100+ degree temperatures in the Arizona summer. Arpaio also had them wear pink underwear, choosing the color because, as he said, “why give them a color they like,” notes the Washington Examiner. Penzone hopes to close “Tent City,” claiming that it could save the the county $4.5 million. AZCentral reports that it has cost $8.7 million a year to operate over the past decate.
As illegal immigration became more of a national issue during the 2000s, he began focusing on that. The Washington Post noted that Arpaio started clashing with local authorities during the 2008 recession, as he wanted to keep devoting more dollars to illegal immigration. In 2008, towards the end of the Bush Administration, the FBI began investigation Arpaio.
Arpaio’s conviction concerns the 2007 case Melendres v. Arpaio. In 2013, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered Arpaio’s sheriff’s office to stop detaining people based only on not having documentation, ruling that the office was racially profiling Latinos. Arpaio refused to follow the order.
Snow ruled in May 2016 that Arpaio was in civil contempt. The Justice Department agreed to take the case. Arpaio, who also pushed the “birther” conspiracy about President Barack Obama, was convicted of being in contempt of court in July. He will be sentenced on October 5 and could face up to six months in prison. Arpaio’s attorneys plan to appeal the case to get a jury trial.
That sentencing will not happen now that Trump has pardoned Arpaio, who was a staunch Trump supporter and also pushed the “birther” conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama. During his Phoenix rally, Trump hinted that he was very close to pardoning “Sheriff Joe.” “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump said, adding that Arpaio is “going to be just fine.”
CNN reports that the White House had prepared paperwork for the pardon to be ready when Trump makes the decision. An official told CNN that they have already written talking points to send to surrogates. One talking point is that Arpaio shouldn’t be imprisoned for “enforcing the law” and “working to keep people safe.”
Arpaio was not at the Phoenix rally. He later accepted the pardon, which was issued on August 25.
“Whatever the president wants me to do, I would support him,” Arpaio told told The Arizona Republic earlier this month. “If he needs help with anything, of course I’m going to help him.”