Overlooked in the shock of the unexpected Donald Trump presidential victory is this: 602,351 Arizona voters threw 84-year-old Sheriff Joe Arpaio out of office after decades of putting up with his criminally-directed department of law breakers.
Other Arizonans soundly defeated another big-mouthed, anti-Mexican sheriff, Paul Babeu – aka, Sherriff Boo-Boo – in his second failed attempt to win election to the U.S. Congress of the United States.
All in all, it was a terrific day for Arizona’s intelligent sector of the population. Sen. John McCain triumphed despite the ultra-right wing cabal that has worked so hard to defeat him for 20 years. Tucson’s retired Col. Martha McSally, the first woman to fly combat for the U.S., easily won reelection with 57 percent in a congressional district in which she originally won with a handful of votes.
In Phoenix, with 702 of 724 voting precincts reporting, retired Phoenix police officer, Paul Penzone attracted 602,351 votes to overwhelm Sheriff Joe – aka “America’s Toughest Sheriff” – and his 487,989 votes.
Questions remain, such as did by how many years did Joe overstay his office? Did Joe lie too many times in federal court? Did Joe refuse to follow federal court orders? Did Joe get so old – in his 80s now – that he simply forgot what the truth was when he lied in court to a federal judge?
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Joe’s trouble started when he and his department were sued in federal court in 2007 for illegal racial profiling by deputies who were following Joe’s policies on people in the country illegally.
The court case against his department proved that Joe’s deputies illegally profiled Mexican-looking people walking or driving on Maricopa County streets or working in county business enterprises. The court ordered Sheriff Joe to stop the illegal profiling of Mexican-looking people. Joe’s department continued for 18 months after the court ordered the illegal activity to stop.
When the plaintiffs hauled Sheriff Joe into court to answer for not following the court’s orders, he conveniently forgot the answers to dozens upon dozens of questions. Questions like whether he ever ordered his deputies to follow the court’s orders and directions. He couldn’t remember.
Federal District Judge Murray Snow, a George W. Bush appointee wrote in his decision that Arpaio was in contempt of court: “There is also probable cause to believe that many, if not all, of the statements were made in an attempt to obstruct any inquiry into their further wrongdoing or negligence.”
In other words, Arpaio lied under oath.
When asked if he ordered a secret investigation of the presiding judge, at first he couldn’t remember, and when he did he claimed he ordered it because he suspected some corruption.
That answer did not please the judge he tried to investigate: Murray Snow.
Arpaio was referred by Judge Snow to federal prosecutors for criminal prosecution; they accepted the referral and announced that Sheriff Joe would be criminally charged and taken to court with possible jail time. The announcement came just days before the election. It undoubtedly contributed to his defeat.
Probably more important is the fact that Sheriff Joe is a bully and someone who simply shouldn’t be in public office.
Six of ten people who voted on Tuesday voted against the boorish sheriff. Interestingly, the man he very publicly supported for president, Donald Trump, carried the same county that voted Joe out.
Arizonans voted for Trump, McCain, McSally and threw “America’s Toughest Sheriff” out of office and replaced him with a Democrat.
Talk about ticket splitting.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com