Joe Arpaio: Arizona sheriff pardoned by Trump for criminal contempt fails to win back old job

Former sheriff whose illegal immigration tactics nearly landed him in jail once again fails to secure his old post at the Maricopa County sheriff's office

Chris Riotta
New York
Saturday 08 August 2020 19:11 BST
Trump defends Arpaio pardon

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Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose illegal immigration tactics nearly landed him a six-month jail sentence – before he was pardoned by President Donald Trump – has lost his second attempt to win back the position.

The 88-year-old former law enforcement officer and politician lost his second failed bid to win back the post he held at the Maricopa County sheriff’s office for 24 years to Jerry Sheridan, his 38-year-old former aide.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court, a rare charge for a sheriff to face while serving in office, after he repeatedly refused to comply with court orders demanding he provide information on immigration enforcement – or to stop making immigration arrests entirely.

The sheriff was known across the country for his controversial immigration agenda, which included enforcing federal immigration law for nine years that ended with a judge ruling his deputies were racially profiling Latinos during traffic stops.

His legal battles weighed down his campaign for re-election in 2016, when he lost while fighting a lawsuit filed by a Mexican man with a valid tourist’s visa who was wrongfully held in detention for nine hours. That case eventually expanded into a class action lawsuit against Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Before he could face sentencing, Mr Trump stepped in and granted Arpaio a pardon, with the White House praising the former sheriff’s career in a statement at the time.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the statement read. “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.”

With his latest failure to win back the seat, his former aide, Mr Sheridan, will advance into the general election against Democratic incumbent Paul Penzone.

Mr Penzone sailed to victory in the 2016 election against Mr Arpaio, who then launched a failed bid for the US Senate in 2018.

Mr Sheridan has promised to implement a hardline approach to immigration if elected, similar to that of his former boss and predecessor.

Meanwhile, Mr Arpaio has suggested he would no longer run for office, telling The New York Times: “I’m still the longest-serving sheriff in the history of Maricopa County. Nobody is going to beat that one.”

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