Why aren’t people listening to the sheriff from Maricopa?
On late notice I managed to score an interview with the outspoken and notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In a wide open discussion we talked about a possible gubernatorial run, immigration, Eric Holder, Obama’s documents, the circumstances of Andrew Breitbart’s death and even the octogenarian’s secret to longevity. I spent about an hour in his office talking and then was invited to attend a graduation ceremony where he addressed a new class of officers.
Sheriff Joe is a career lawman. He’s been productive in his more than 80 years having served as the sheriff of Maricopa since 1992. He’s survived reelection every four years despite being a lightning rod of controversy. Before his decades of being the sheriff he led operations for the DEA and even arrested Elvis in Las Vegas.
I sat down with the sheriff in his Phoenix office and was grateful for the last-minute interview. The first thing we talked about was his potential candidacy for Arizona governor this year. He will make a decision on the 22nd of May but made it clear that he is seriously considering a run. He pointed out that he already has more campaign cash than any of the other candidates. “The frontrunner is actually coming here to see me today,” the sheriff told us. “The reason he’s the frontrunner is, he’s raised about a million dollars. Well I’ve raised about four million, but no one is taking my run seriously.”
Candidates from across the country make the pilgrimage to his office and when asked whether they come asking him about policy, he chuckled and indicated that they come looking for his endorsement. “The Presidential candidates all came here. I ended up going with Rick Perry, but he had some back issues, you know.” Sheriff Joe was careful to say nice things about the other candidates for governor while still making the case that he would be the best candidate.
One of the reasons that Sheriff Joe cited for the lack of interest in his potential candidacy was his Trump-like flirtation with running in previous years. “People ask and you wait until the deadline to make the decision.” There is no doubt if he decided to run, he would be able to mount a credible campaign. With a national donor base and global name recognition the sheriff is a master of generating ample publicity both positive and negative. His campaign would draw headlines around the world. Those headlines would be converted into fundraising dollars from donors and vicious attack ads from an energetic activist base. Sheriff Joe talks as someone still carefully weighing his options. “I’d have to resign as sheriff as soon as I announced….”
When asked about his platform the sheriff touched on a number of issues. He is opposed to recreational marijuana legalization but could be convinced to accept medical marijuana. He also said that he would use the National Guard to secure the border and he’d work with Mexican officials to take enforcement actions on both sides of the border.
Around this point in the interview the sheriff was interrupted by his media relations spokesperson Christopher Hegstrom. Chris is energetic, athletic, and looks like a TV news anchor. Despite being decades younger than the sheriff, Chris made it clear that it’s no small task keeping up. “I don’t know how he does it, he is tough to keep up with,” he told us as the sheriff looked over a press release. The sheriff, multi-tasking, revealed his secret to his longevity, “Italian olive oil.”
I wanted to talk to the sheriff about Eric Holder, but it turned out to be a difficult topic to broach. It was difficult because my informed opinion of Eric Holder is that he refuses to enforce the law on his political allies and fellow members of the administration. The top law enforcement officer in the country is a crook. He has targeted Sheriff Joe over racial profiling and with the ongoing case, he couldn’t say much. Later he would quip during a speech, “…Some people in Washington don’t like the Sheriff…”.
The conversation segued into whether he thought the targeting was a result of his ongoing investigation over the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate and selective service card. “The Tea Party sat across from me and asked me to take a look,that no one else would listen.” The sheriff has his “cold case posse” reviewing the case, avoiding spending any tax dollars on the investigation. He doesn’t shy away from saying that he is convinced that many of the Obama documents are forgeries. Despite the DOJ targeting and the media blackout, he plans to continue his investigation. One hopes that his evidence will someday get its day in court.
Hearing a distinguished lawman and sheriff of one of the largest sheriff offices in the country discuss his belief in forged documents from the President is a trip. He also brought up something I’ve heard discussed quietly around the country. “Andrew Breitbart, you know how he died,” he then paused before continuing, “The coroner that examined him died shortly thereafter.”
Hearing him talk about the suspicious circumstances surrounding Andrew Breitbart’s death threw me off a bit because it’s something many people have questions about, but it’s generally considered a “conspiracy theory.”
The conversation transitioned to the Veterans Administration scandal in Phoenix. Sheriff Joe is proud of his record of hiring veterans and even provides veteran inmates with a special program (I like this idea so much that I’m planning a return trip to do a separate article). “All these people talk about helping the veterans, but I’ve actually done it. I’ve hired over a hundred veterans recently. We’ve also got between 20 and 30 officers from other countries, many of them here on the green card.”
Years of being called a racist, protested by amnesty advocates, and smeared in the national media has clearly taken a toll on the sheriff. During multiple points of the interview the sheriff made a point to discuss his diversity bonafide. One example, “My daughter has adopted multi-racial children and I’m their grandpa, but I’m the racist.”
One of the last things we discussed in his office was the infamous tent city. “I would like to take credit for it saving money, but the real reason I did it was simple. I don’t think life in jail should be easier than people’s regular lives.”
After about an hour his aides alerted him that it was time for his appointment with Doug Ducey, the candidate for governor. I looked him up; he’s considered a “rising star” in the Republican Party and has already got Scott Walker’s endorsement. The sheriff posed for pictures and offered up a signed poster and commemorative coin. A few hours later I was on hand for a graduation ceremony for a new class of guards, err… detention officers, as the sheriff would have them called. The sheriff welcomed the new class of recruits with a speech ranging from the opportunity to advance within the department to ignoring people “who may not like the sheriff.”
Sitting down and talking to Sheriff Arpaio brings up many disturbing questions. Many of the things that this important official speaks openly about are taboo with nearly every other elected official and in the media. Already into his 80′s, Sheriff Joe is still speaking openly and catching heat. Disproving his opponents remains a motivating factor and he still takes pride in being America’s Toughest Sheriff. “Obama called Biden Sheriff Joe; that’s nonsense, I’m the only real Sheriff Joe.”