After Bernie Sanders' wife took a tour of Maricopa County's Tent City Jail with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, critics today accused her of acting as a "prop" in the spread of racist propaganda.
Among the naysayers was Democratic U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego, who, in a Facebook post, advised Jane Sanders "to take a less naive approach" to promoting her husband's policies if she "is serious about winning over Latino voters in Arizona."
Gallego is an announced Hillary Clinton supporter.
"The Sanders campaign played into one of the easiest and most damaging cliches in Arizona politics: going to Sheriff Joe Arpaio to get news coverage," Gallego wrote."While I am deeply concerned for the treatment of prisoners and the documented targeting of Latinos by Arpaio’s office, I also know that attempting to 'confront' Arpaio in front of news cameras only gives him what he wants.
"Like Donald Trump, Joe Arpaio is fueled by controversy played out over surface-level, sensationalized news coverage. In their own attempt to get short-term media attention ahead of Arizona’s primary, the Sanders campaign only strengthened Arpaio’s disastrous hold over the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office."
The rights group Puente planned Jane Sanders' visit to the infamous jail — where prisoners live in canvas tents, wear pink underwear, and eat meatless meals — as part of a larger event designed to draw attention to racial profiling and the incarceration of undocumented immigrants.
Sanders initially was supposed to take a look from the outside. But Arpaio, facing a federal contempt-of-declaration (along with three of his commanders) for violating a judge's ruling not to enforce immigration law, caught wind of her visit, showed up, and invited her to come inside the complex.
As Arpaio's men ushered her toward the gate, Puente organizers, who previously expressed a desire to avoid the sheriff, protested — to no avail.
Arpaio, never one to miss an opportunity for press, tweeted about it, setting off a social media firestorm.
Some called it a gaffe.
Others seized the opportunity to plug for Democratic front-runner Clinton.
Sanders got on Twitter to declare that she did not intend to visit with Arpaio.
Some jumped to her defense.