Vice President Mike Pence appeared at an event in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, where he stood alongside and doled out accolades to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been convicted of illegally targeting Latinos.
“A great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law,” Pence said during a speech about tax cuts. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I’m honored to have you here.”
Arpaio, who is running for Senate in Arizona, engaged in unlawful policing and racial profiling during his time as sheriff, a 2011 report by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division determined.
His officers stopped Latino drivers four to nine times more frequently than they stopped others, and Arpaio became known for using derogatory terms such as “Mexican bitches.” He also oversaw a series of bizarre and draconian tactics in his county’s prison system, including forcing some people to parade around in pink underwear and reportedly calling his state’s jail a “concentration camp.” His office also ignored hundreds of sex abuse cases, according to an Associated Press investigation.
“Mike Pence’s all-but-endorsement of Joe Arpaio proves that there is no end in sight for the divisive and increasingly nasty fight for the GOP nomination,” Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said in a statement. “Arizonans want leaders who will get things done, not just partisan politicians who will add to the chaos in Washington.”
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt last year for violating a 2011 order that barred him and his staff from detaining people based on their suspected immigration status.
“If you’re going to come across that border, you should be arrested and get the consequences of it,” Arpaio told the Washington Examiner upon announcing his Senate run.
President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in August, saying ― much like Pence did ― that Arpaio is tough on immigration.
Many were quick to point out Arpaio’s abysmal record on law enforcement following Pence’s remarks:
This story has been updated with a statement from the Arizona Democratic Party.