A bit more than a year after voters booted him out of office, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio has announced he's running for the U.S. Senate.
The 85-year-old Arizonan—an unrepentant birther, nativist, and whiny baby—told the Washington Examiner that he will run on a platform of supporting the agenda of President Donald Trump, who pardoned Arpaio last year after a federal judge held the ex-sheriff in criminal contempt.
"I have a lot to offer. I'm a big supporter of President Trump," Arpaio told the paper. "I'm going to have to work hard; you don't take anything for granted. But I would not being doing this if I thought that I could not win. I'm not here to get my name in the paper, I get that every day, anyway."
A federal judge found Arpaio, who was notorious for jailing inmates in a sweltering desert tent camp, in contempt of court last July for flouting a 2011 order to stop the unconstitutional racial profiling and detainment of Latino residents.
Arpaio gained national prominence, a rare feat for a local sheriff, for his aggressive immigration sweeps. He styled himself as "America's toughest sheriff" and was politically untouchable for most of his 24-year career in local Arizona politics, despite ongoing scandals, lawsuits, and abuses of power.
The tent-city jail that Arpaio enjoyed showing off to reporters was a magnet for inmate lawsuit. Abuses and corruption festered under Arpaio's management. He used his office to target reporters and political opponents, flouting court orders and stonewalling federal investigators.
In 2016, facing a flood of out-of-state money, a well-organized Latino get-out-the-vote campaign, and the criminal contempt charges, Arpaio lost by a stunning 10 points.
Arpaio had been an ardent Trump supporter, though, and the president returned the favor. Both Arpaio and Trump characterized the charges against the former sheriff as judicial activism. Trump told Fox News prior to the pardon that Arpaio was "a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him."
As I wrote at the time: "In pardoning Arpaio, Trump has given a free pass to an unrepentant and habitual abuser of authority, a man with insufficient regard for the Constitution he swore to uphold or the separation of powers it enshrines."
In 2013, Reason named Arpaio one of its 45 enemies of freedom, where he joined such luminaries as Idi Amin, Michael Bloomberg, and Hillary Clinton:
Maricopa County, Arizona's chief law enforcement officer is famous mostly for publicly degrading inmates: forcing them to live in a tent city, work on chain gangs, wear pink underwear. Meanwhile, his more serious transgressions receive far less attention. Arpaio has created citizen posses to track down and arrest illegal immigrants, overseen a jail staff that has violently abused inmates (resulting in the death of three prisoners and the paralysis of a fourth), and used law enforcement resources to harass and intimidate his political opponents.
Arpaio will join a now three-way race with Rep. Marth McSally and state Sen. Kelli Ward to be the Republican nominee to replace outgoing senator Jeff Flake. If elected, Arpaio would vote to confirm nominees to the federal bench, the same institution that held him in contempt.
Arpaio, not content with his pardon, is still fighting to have the conviction completely erased from his record. A U.S. District Judge denied that request in October, but Arpaio's lawyers have filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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