Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt last July and served no jail time, tweeted Tuesday that “when someone commits a crime, they must do the time.”
As the county’s top lawman, Arpaio was best known for running a tent city prison he called a “concentration camp” in which he tortured hundreds of immigrants and minorities. Now he’s running for Senate in Arizona against former Arizona state legislator Kelli Ward and Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ).
On Tuesday, the former sheriff, who was pardoned by President Trump last August, tweeted a poll with the caption, “When someone commits a crime, they must do the time. Taxpayers pay for their accommodations. Which ‘type’ of accommodations do you prefer to provide a criminal? Keep in mind ‘criminals’ shouldn’t want to make a returned visit.
The poll asked taxpayers to pick between a “hotel with foot delivery” and a “tent city the hard way.” After initially deleting the tweet, he reposted it again minutes later with no visible edits.
When someone commits a crime, they must do the time. Taxpayers pay for their accommodations. Which "type" of accommodations do you prefer to provide a criminal? Keep in mind "criminals" shouldn't want to make a returned visit. #TeamArpaioPOSSE
— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) July 17, 2018
The poll itself appeared to be in reference to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in thousands of undocumented immigrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border and thrown into juvenile detention centers or “tent cities,” many of which have histories of abuse, neglect, or mismanagement.
Arpaio previously criticized the parents of those children, claiming they deserved to be punished for daring to cross the border without documentation. “Why don’t we blame the families, the adults, for taking the chance, violating the law, coming across our border with these young kids? They’re the ones who should be held responsible,” he said during an interview with CNN in June.
Arpaio’s tweet also glossed over the fact that the former sheriff has cost taxpayers plenty of money himself. As ThinkProgress noted last August, a federal judge charged Arpaio with criminal contempt in October 2016, “for his ‘flagrant disregard’ of a 2011 order to obey the U.S. Constitution by ceasing to racially profile the Latinx community in his state.”
“The racial profiling lawsuit against Arpaio, first filed in 2007, has racked up almost $56 million in taxpayer costs since then,” ThinkProgress’ Esther Yu Hsi Lee reported at the time.
Despite this, Trump had nothing but good things to say about Arpaio in his official pardon on August 25:
Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration… Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.
Arpaio now sits at the bottom of the field in Arizona’s Republican primary to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is retiring. He has not managed to crack 30 percent support in any poll — McSally, by contrast, hasn’t fallen below 30 percent in any poll — and some have subsequently raised questions about whether Arpaio wants to win the race at all or if it’s all a ploy to raise money for his legal fund.
In April, Arpaio lashed out at those critics, speaking to ThinkProgress at an event in Arizona.
“I already raised half a million dollars in two months. I’m in it to win,” he said. “For all those people who say I’m just doing this — like Flake — ‘He’s not serious,’ I’m going to tell you, I am running to win. They can say whatever they want, that I’m just doing it to get publicity. I can get publicity every day. I do anyway. I don’t have to run for Senate to get any publicity.”