Pardoned Sheriff Announces Senate Run

Former sheriff Joe Arpaio’s run for Senate is causing lots of controversy.


Sheriff Joe Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald J. Trump. Arpaio is now making a Senate run in the State of Arizona. Arpaio had previous charges of criminal contempt for wrongfully imprisoning people.

John Brown , Staff Writer

Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff  known for his harsh immigration views is making a run for the US Senate. Arpaio said his conviction was a “political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama Justice Department.”  But with Arpaio’s convictions and biases towards immigrants, Arpaio’s quote contends to the question on whether Arpaio is the right fit and competency for the Senate office.

Joe Arpaio, lost his position to the sheriff after losing an election to Democrat Paul Penzone.  Arpaio served as Sheriff from 1993-2016.  Arpaio was convicted and jailed in contempt of court after putting people, mostly illegal immigrants in jail with no plausible crimes or charges.  In Aug. 2017, Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald J. Trump.  Arpaio is making a Senate run for the seat of Ariz., battling it out in the election during 2018-2019.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the former sheriff said he is running for the Senate seat to support President Trump’s agenda.

The controversy caused by Arpaio started in 2007 with a traffic stop in Maricopa County, Ariz., as well as the detention of a Mexican man with a valid tourist visa.  After the nine-hour detention, the man sued the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Arpaio for racial profiling by deputies.  Going back to Arpaio’s earlier years, Arpaio served in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1954 as part of the Medical Detachment Division during the Korean War.  Arpaio said in 2009 that 30,000 illegal immigrants were detained since the beginning of 2005.  The U.S Justice Department investigated Arpaio’s office in 2011 and found that Arpaio’s office had committed civil violations.  The civil violations directed towards Latinos included discrimination and racial profiling.  Given Arpaio’s history, it is no surprise that his decision to run for the Senate chair has incited some very deep reactions, including some from around Round Lake High School.

“I was surprised, given his age, and thought he might want to retire,” said Ms. Laura Masessa, who teaches AP Government and Politics at RLHS, about Arpaio’s decision to run.  “I also thought he would not want to run again after losing his last election for sheriff.”  Masessa also added that she was surprised Arpaio was making a Senate run after being convicted of a crime and pardoned by President Trump.  

English teacher and head speech coach, Mrs. Sharon Aiello said, “This is Arpaio’s way of ‘giving back’ to Trump for the full pardon.”  Arpaio, pardoned by President Trump in Aug. 2017, was originally jailed on criminal contempt charges.

AP United States History and history teacher, Mrs. Tracy Balla has similar thoughts as Masessa: “[He is] someone who struggled to obey laws, and now [is] allowed to create laws; I don’t think that is the greatest decision.” Balla then added that the Republican Party has an uphill battle ahead due to controversial Senate seat run.

In Dec. 2017, the State of Alabama had a Senate election between Doug Jones (D.) and Roy Moore (R.)  The controversy over the election caused an uproar due to past allegations that  Moore was accused of sexually assaulting girls and women.  Doug Jones narrowly won the Alabama Senate race in 2017.  

Balla feels that Republicans should choose more wisely in candidates. “It’s a tough time getting elected in a pretty ‘red’ state, Republicans need to nominate someone less extreme. If the Republicans did nominate someone less extreme, the Republicans would not have a problem,” said Balla.  Balla also commented that Republicans face opposition because of Arpaio.  According to the BBC News, “Some are warning that in such a politically competitive state, Mr. Arpaio’s bid could fuel Democrats to organize with more force as they did in December’s Alabama race, where Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican candidate Roy Moore.”  

The Senate chair election is approaching quickly in Arizona, and is turning out to be quite the boxing match debate between the Republicans and Democrats.  If Arpaio does win the Senate chair, “There would be more animosity between the two parties in the Trump administration,” said Balla.  “It does not strike me that Arpaio would compromise on anything.”  

In a Jan. 10 article, journalists Jacques Billeaud and Anita Snow from Real Clear Politics, a news source that provides unbiased content, see the same problem as Balla: “the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Jeff Flake potentially pits two conservatives, pro-Donald Trump candidates against each other and could create an opening for a more moderate GOP contender to take the seat.”

If Arpaio does end up winning, Masessa sees it affecting the country. “He would help to secure the Republican majority in the Senate.  This impacts society because the Senate is one of the components that shapes our government.” 

Aiello added,  “I am concerned about how this would affect immigration laws. He was found guilty of assuming people were illegal without any evidence. I feel he would abuse his power in the Senate, just as he did being sheriff.”

As Arpaio makes the Senate run, Arpaio promises to support President Trump’s agenda all the way.  “There is no secret affairs plot,” said Balla.  Balla also concluded that Trump and Arpaio have a lot in common with their opinions towards immigration. The Washington Post noted, “At his Aug. 22 rally in Phoenix, President Trump heaped praise on longtime ally and campaign surrogate Joe Arpaio, the embattled former sheriff from Arizona.”  

If Arpaio does win the Senate chair, it will be the first time a convicted criminal, pardoned, won a government position.