Joe Arpaio Says He's Running for "Spite" at Far-Right Wingnut Convention
Joe at the CSPOA. If you don't want to watch 30 minutes of blather, the highlights are below
The mutual embrace of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and far right wing extremist groups has been going on for some time now, Arpaio's ludicrous foray into the conspiranut world of birtherdom being but the latest example.
As I've documented at length, Arpaio has cozied up to racists, hard-core nativists and assorted fringe rightists in recent years, and they've cozied up right back, hailing him as their hero. This obscene tango has dovetailed neatly with Arpaio's discovery of illegal immigration as an issue he can exploit for political purposes.
So it should be no surprise that Arpaio recently graced the stage at a convention of Richard Mack's conspiratorial Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mack is a former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona who has made a name for himself in far-right kookery by pimping the idea that a sheriff's power trumps all other laws.
He also shills for an extremist organization known as the Oath Keepers, made up of former and current law enforcement and military personnel who believe it is their duty to defy what they deem to be unconstitutional orders.
These unconstitutional orders include a number of paranoid wingnut fantasies such as, "any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps," and, "orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union," among others.
Mack's CSPOA is aligned closely with the Oath Keepers, which sponsored his January 30-31 Vegas conference. The two groups share the same basic beliefs.
"The county sheriff is the line in the sand," states the CSPOA website. "The county sheriff is the one who can say to the feds, `Beyond these bounds you shall not pass.'This is not only within the scope of the sheriff's authority; it's the sheriff's sworn duty."
Mack writes on the CSPOA site that,
"We do not have to stand by and watch while America is destroyed from within. If our counties, cities, and states and all local officers keep their oaths to protect us from tyranny, we can win this battle to take our country back. This is our plan, our goal and our quest."
The erstwhile sheriff co-penned a book with white supremacist Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge shootout fame. And his Vegas conference included such speakers as Larry Pratt, militia promoter and head of Gun Owners of America, who has his own set of nefarious associations.
The SPLC noted the following of Pratt in an article from its Intelligence Report magazine:
Picturing these groups in rosy terms, Pratt advocated similar militias in the United States -- an idea that finally caught on when he was invited for a meeting of 160 extremists, including many famous white supremacists, in 1992.
It was at that meeting, hosted in Colorado by white supremacist minister Pete Peters, that the contours of the militia movement were laid out.
Pratt, whose GOA has grown since its 1975 founding to some 150,000 members today, hit the headlines in a big way when his associations with Peters and other professional racists were revealed, convincing arch-conservative Pat Buchanan to eject him as a national co-chair of Buchanan's 1996 presidential campaign.
Regarding Mack and Arpaio, they are, apparently, great buds, with Arpaio once offering an endorsement for one of Mack's books.
In Arpaio's 33-minute address, he praised Mack and his loony organization.
"I'm very happy with what he's doing, about the constitution and the role of the elected sheriff," he enthused at one point.
No doubt Mack's belief in the defiance of federal authority by local law enforcement appeals to a man like Arpaio who has been, and continues to be, the subject of criminal and civil investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Arpaio's speech was his usual shuck and jive, touching on everything from racial profiling and illegal immigration to his beloved pink underwear and his insistence that his hair is real.
"I'm running again just for spite this year," he stated of the 2012 election.
He related that when he first ran for sheriff he said that the position "should be appointed and not elected."
Arpaio cracked, "I must've been drunk on something when I said that."
He added, "I did get elected, but then I found out what a stupid, stupid remark that was, because I know I would've been fired 19 years ago, if I was appointed and had to report to some bureaucrat politician."
On the topic of his racial profiling ways, he denied the MCSO unfairly targets Latinos, and offered the following defense:
"I can't help if they're all Hispanic, comin' from Mexico. Where you think they're coming from, we're next door to Mexico? Is it my fault? Now they're goin' after me. Profiling. What am I supposed to do? First of all, I don't even know who they are anyway. We lock 'em up at night. I can't see who's in the car. Then the windows are so dirty, they [don't go] to the car wash. I can't see what's in the car."Which calls to mind Arpaio's declaration of a couple of years back that Mexican migrants bring disease and that, "They're all dirty."Of course, he had to talk up the pink underwear inmates wear in his jails. He even offered a little gay-bashing to go along with it.
"I have an official reason for everything I do," he stated of the pink underwear. "That's why I survive. You can always come up with a reason."
The official reason for the pink undies is that it keeps thefts of the boxers down.
"The unofficial reason is [the prisoners] hate pink," he revealed. "They might like it up in San-Fran-cisco, but they don't like it here."
The punch line earned him some laughter. His justification of his risible "investigation" into President Barack Obama's birth certificate garnered him applause.
"I think about 200 tea party people came to my office with petitions," Arpaio related. "And they said, `Sheriff, you're our last hope. Will you please investigate the president on the birth certificate issue?'
"So what am I supposed to do, say no? So they asked me to do it. I mean they want me to do it. I report to them. So should I throw it in the wastebasket? Come up with a million excuses why I won't do it? Which I could find a million excuses why not to do it. But I did it."
Yep, these are the human PayDay bars Arpaio reports to, the freaks, the bigots and the Obama-haters.
Too bad he didn't feel the same obligation toward the victims of sex crimes in El Mirage. But then, they weren't offering applause, hero-worship or campaign contributions. They just wanted Arpaio to do his job.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.