During an event in Arizona on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence praised Republican U.S. Senate candidate and ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio as “a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.”
“I just found out when I was walking through the door that we were also going to be joined today by another favorite,” Pence said. “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, I’m honored to have you here.”
"I'm honored to have you here."
Vice President Mike Pence recognizes ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio during a tax policy event in Arizona, calling Arpaio a "tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law." pic.twitter.com/tzmS3sKPnN
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 1, 2018
Pence touting Arpaio’s purported work on behalf of the rule of law in an ironic twist, given that last year, Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court in a racial profiling case.
Arpaio lost his reelection bid as those charges loomed over him in the fall of 2016. As sheriff, he had a long history civil rights abuses, failure to investigate sex abuse cases, and decades of discriminating against Arizona’s Latinx community. He once described his outdoor jail for “illegal alien” prisoners as a “concentration camp.”
Last summer, Arpaio was pardoned by President Trump, who he staunchly supported throughout the presidential campaign. In a statement announcing his pardon, Trump praised Arpaio’s “life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.” Earlier this year, Arpaio announced that he’s running to fill Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) U.S. Senate seat as a staunch Trump supporter who wants to help the president drain the swamp.
Pence’s praise for Arpaio wasn’t the only controversy surrounding his speech in Arizona. The event Pence spoke at was hosted by “American First Policies,” a pro-Trump dark money group. The group’s director is Carl Higbie, who was recently in the news following a CNN investigation into racist remarks he made on a radio show about how “the black race” has “a lax of morality” and that black women “think that breeding is a form of employment.”