Sheriff Joe Arpaio Admits He Busted Mexicans to "Spite" Critics in 2009 Recording; Evidence Shows He Also Did It for Publicity, Not Legit Enforcement

News media across the country lit up over the weekend with anti-Sheriff Joe Arpaio stories after a recording surfaced in which Arpaio admits he busted Mexicans to "spite" critics.

Bigots at the Texans For Immigration Reform fundraising rally in September of 2009 laughed as the Maricopa County sheriff described the illegitimate reason for targeting Hispanics in illegal-immigrant roundups.

After critics including local politicians and officials with the U.S. Justice Department "
went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite," said Arpaio. A couple of days ago, he clarified for the Associated Press that he only regretted not mentioning that he had busted "thousands," and not just 500.

Arpaio has been accused of leading the worst case of racial profiling in a law enforcement agency in U.S. history. The Justice Department, which announced the damning findings against the Sheriff's Office in December, appears ready to sue Arpaio for failing to cooperate in settling the matter.

No local observers should be surprised to hear Arpaio mock his accusers. Arizonans have long been aware that Arpaio's anti-illegal-immigrant crusade has been conducted mainly to pump up his political mojo among right-wingers.

As we noted last week, one of Arpaio's top men, Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, and Arpaio's longtime spokeswoman, Lisa Allen, seem to agree in a secretly made recording that the immigrant round-ups are done for publicity.

Another great example of Arpaio's ulterior motives can be found in the lengthy investigation into whistle-blower Munnell's allegations.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.