The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Joe Arpaio is neither a conservative nor a hero


Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by Joe Arpaio, then the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., at a campaign event in January 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. (Mary Altaffer, Associated Press)

Conservative commentator Jon Gabriel is a former constituent of Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff who was prosecuted and convicted of criminal contempt of court earlier this year, and then pardoned by President Trump on Friday. According to Gabriel, "Arpaio was never a conservative; he just played one on TV."

Having lived in Arpaio's Arizona jurisdiction, Gabriel is not a fan. He explains why in USA Today:

During one three-year period, his Maricopa County Sheriff's Office didn't properly investigate more than 400 alleged sex crimes, many of them involving child molestation.

In all, the department improperly cleared as many as 75% of cases without arrest or investigation, a fact outlined in a scathing report by the conservative Goldwater Institute. . . .

On the pretext of going after an alleged cache of illegal weapons, a Maricopa SWAT team burned down an upscale suburban Phoenix home and killed the occupants' 10-month-old dog. There were no illegal arms, so they arrested the resident on traffic citations. . . .

All these antics, and many more, finally persuaded Maricopa County voters to oust the sheriff by a whopping 10-point margin. They selected his Democratic opponent, despite choosing Trump by three points in the same election.

Convicting Arpaio of contempt of court is similar to busting Al Capone on tax evasion. It was merely the tip of the iceberg considering his numerous violations of the public trust.

As they say, read the whole thing.