Joe Arpaio

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Joe Arpaio
Former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona
From: January 1, 1993 – January 1, 2017
Predecessor Tom Agnos
Successor Paul Penzone
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Ava Arpaio
Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Service Years 1950 - 1954

Joseph Michael Arpaio (born June 14, 1932) was the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona from 1993 to 2017. As sheriff, he was known for being very conservative, as well as tough on crime and on illegal immigration. Left-wing organizations such as the ACLU, SPLC, and the Obama Administration Justice Department,[1] among others, attacked his strong anti-illegal immigration stance. Arpaio became Sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992 and was re-elected six times. As sheriff, Arpaio headed up the law enforcement agency for the unincorporated area surrounding Phoenix, an area of 9,226 square miles.[2]

In 2012, he and a group of volunteer investigators claimed to have evidence suggesting that Barack Obama deliberately forged his birth records in order to be eligible to run for President.[3]

Arpaio has been politically active both in Arizona and beyond. For example, in 2010, Arpaio campaigned in Kansas for Kris Kobach in his bid for Secretary of State.[4] Arpaio endorsed Donald Trump for President in January 2016.[5]

Arpaio was defeated for re-election for a seventh term in November 2016.[6] He did not regret his crackdowns on illegal immigration.[7] The Democrat who succeeded him said he would not continue some of Arpaio's most successful policies, including patrols for illegal immigrants, because the sheriff's office had been enjoined by court orders.[8]

In January 2018, Arpaio announced he was running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. As in previous years, Arpaio was fiercely attacked by the Left due to his strong pro-American stances on illegal immigration.[9]

Controversies and opposition

Arpaio speaking at a Trump rally, June 2016

Arpaio was a frequent target of liberals who opposed his tough-on-crime policies.

In August 1993, Arpaio started the nation's largest "tent city" for convicted inmates. The facility held two thousand convicted men and women in canvas tents, something which was criticized by liberals for not having air conditioning in over 100° heat[8] and for having inmates subjected to the elements.[10] Those conditions resulted in inmate lawsuits, and Arpaio's Democrat succesor is closing down the facility which he estimates will save $4.5 million per year.[11]

Arpaio drew criticism for his handling of sexual offenses, with at least 400 cases, including several involving child sexual abuse, being 'inadequately investigated' if investigated at all. Some have connected this apparent negligence with the fact that in many cases the victims were illegal immigrants.[12] During the years 2004 to 2009, Maricopa County paid $14.5 million in claims regarding the sheriff's office, and another $6.4 million for claims against the jail health service for failure to diagnose, deliberate indifference and suicides.[13]

In 1999, undercover deputies arrested 18-year old James Saville for plotting to kill Arpaio with a pipe bomb. On July 9, 2003, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury acquitted Saville, finding that the bomb plot was an elaborate publicity stunt to boost Arpaio's reelection bid.[14] In 2004, Saville sued both Arpaio and Maricopa County for wrongful arrest and entrapment, seeking $10 million in damages. In 2008, the suit was settled by Maricopa County paying Saville $1.6 million.[13][15][16]

Arpaio was convicted in federal court for misdemeanor contempt of court. On August 25, 2017, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, noting his over 50 years of "exemplary" public service and fighting illegal immigration in the White House statement of the pardon.[17]

Personal life

Arpaio and his wife Ava have been married for over 50 years and have two children and four grandchildren residing in the Phoenix area. Arpaio's mother was against abortion; she died giving birth to Joe.[18]


  • "Illegal immigration is a crime, not a negotiation."


  1. "Justice Department Sues Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Civil Rights Case", May 10, 2012. Retrieved on Sept. 11, 2017. 
  2. Welcome to the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  4. "Arizona sheriff Arpaio stumps for Kobach", Wichita Eagle and, July 14, 2010.
  5. "Trump pardons former Sheriff Arpaio", Aug 25, 2017. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017. 
  6. Guarino, Ben (November 9, 2016). Arizona’s Joe Arpaio ousted by voters, ending the 24-year run of ‘America’s toughest sheriff’. The Washington Post. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  7. Defeated Sheriff Arpaio Has No Regrets About Immigration Crackdowns. Fortune. November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio replacement Paul Penzone facing tough and odd choices. CBS News (from AP). November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  9. Adelmann, Bob (January 11, 2018). Sheriff Joe Incurs Wrath of Liberals in Announcing for Jeff Flake’s Senate Seat. The New American. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  10. "Jails". Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017. 
  11. "Crews begin dismantling Joe Arpaio's controversial "Tent City" complex in Arizona", CBS News, May 24, 2017. Retrieved on May 26, 2017. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Claims vs. county cost taxpayers $71 mil (May 23, 2010). Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  14. Bommersbach, Jana. Will Sheriff Joe Stop at Nothing? PHOENIX Magazine, February 2005.
  15. Dickerson, John (October 28, 2008). A Phony Murder Plot Against Joe Arpaio Winds Up Costing Taxpayers $1.1 Million. Phoenix New Times. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  16. Dougherty, John (June 24, 2004). In the Crosshairs. Retrieved on Aug 26, 2017.
  17. Multiple references:
  18. Twitter feed on abortion