Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is probably best known for his conviction for contempt of court after he ignored an order to end traffic patrols targeting immigrants in what the court determined amounted to racial profiling, and for President Trump’s pardon of that conviction. He’s also known for running a Maricopa County jail where inmates died after they were put on a diet of bread and water.
But on Tuesday night at a tax event in Arizona, Vice President Mike Pence praised Arpaio, who is running to take retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, as a "tireless champion" of the "rule of law."
"And I just found out, when I was walking through the door, that we’re also going to be joined today by another favorite, a great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law, he spent a lifetime in law enforcement, Sheriff Joe Arpaio," Pence said Tuesday night. "I’m honored to have you here."
Mr. Trump was highly criticized for pardoning Arpaio in August, even by some in his own party. Arpaio represented Mr. Trump’s first presidential pardon.
"No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said in a statement at the time. "Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders. The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions."
Arpaio, in addition to his controversial actions as sheriff, has continued to call former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate a "phony document."
"No doubt about it, no doubt about it. We have the evidence," Arpaio told CNN host Christopher Cuomo in January of this year.
As of the end of March, Arpaio’s campaign had raised more than $500,000, according to campaign finance records.