Coming up on his Fresno visit, controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio has doubled down on his law enforcement policies and right-wing mission.
In an interview with the Bay Area News Group, Arpaio said his stop Friday in the central San Joaquin Valley reflects his renewed mission to market conservative ideals. That includes his endeavor to prove that former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is fake, although that has been disproved repeatedly. Because of his beliefs about Obama’s heritage, he’s hoping Congress will pass a law to require background checks for presidential candidates.
“It has to go down as the biggest cover-up in the history of the United States,” he said of Obama’s birth certificate. “Nobody wants to touch it.”
Arpaio told the Bay Area News Group he’s not going away: “Don’t think I’m going fishing.”
The former Maricopa County sheriff is visiting Fresno on Friday for the Fresno Republican Party’s annual fundraiser. Arpaio’s presence at the sold-out event has been controversial — many prominent Republicans are not going, either because of scheduling conflicts or to avoid associating with Arpaio and his views.
Among those not attending is Rep. David Valadao, whose spokeswoman confirmed to the Bay Area News Group without giving a reason. Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Fresno Sheriff Margaret Mims and Kings County Sheriff David Robinson also aren’t going.
The fact that Brand would not attend was the subject of a tweet Wednesday night by Arpaio. “Going to Fresno this Friday to speak to a sold-out Republican group To bad @mayorleebrand(R) refuses to attend. Not worried about Protestors,” the tweet said.
The 85-year-old lawman has spent decades in the national spotlight for his treatment of jail inmates and undocumented people. Some consider him “America’s toughest sheriff;” others have denounced his tactics as inhuman, unethical or illegal.
Earlier this year, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in federal court for failing to follow a 2011 judicial order to stop detaining undocumented people solely because they were undocumented. On Aug. 25, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio.
Arpaio said he didn’t ask for the pardon from Trump, who bypassed the traditional process through the U.S. Department of Justice. “I didn’t ask for the pardon. I accepted it, and I’m honored to receive it from our president,” he said.
The pardon, coupled with the president’s hardline immigration policies, has earned Trump the honor of being Arpaio’s “hero.”
“It took me 85 years to finally know in my own heart who my hero is,” Arpaio said. “You know who that person is? The president of the United States.”
To read the San Jose Mercury News’ full story, click here.