Editorial: Arpaio pardon is petty payoff of political convenience
Posted August 30
CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017; Editorial # 8205
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
While it isn’t a surprise, it is no less a disappointment that President Donald Trump granted a premature, unwise and undeserved pardon to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Sadly it was an apropos gesture for Trump, who ignored the established pardon process and displayed disdain for the judiciary, to accommodate his buddy. While the president acted within this authority in granting the pardon, the haste reveals the true unsavory nature of the deal. It was a gesture to bullies, bigots and privileged law-breakers – all the kinds of characters that President Trump seems too comfortable around.
The Arpaio case is the direct result of the sheriff’s despicable tactics to sweep up undocumented immigrants. In 2007, Arpaio’s deputies held a man with a valid Mexican tourist visa for nine hours. The man sued, in federal court, on the basis of racial profiling.
It was an outgrowth of that case, and the 2011 injunction against profiling issued by a federal judge (a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush), that eventually led to Arpaio’s contempt of court conviction – and thus the pardon.
Maricopa County taxpayers have spent an estimated $72 million defending Arpaio and his department against racial profiling charges. The contempt of court violation resulted in the establishment of a $1 million fund, also financed by taxpayers, to compensate Latinos who were illegally detained when the sheriff, and deputies on his orders, ignored a court order to end racial profiling and continued the illegal detentions.
Like Trump, Arpaio was a leader of the “birther” movement – spreading the false theory that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. He even sent posse to Hawaii in 2012 to verify the president’s birth certificate.
In 2007, two owners of The Phoenix New Times, a tough critic of the sheriff, were arrested after the newspaper accurately reported on a Maricopa County subpoena seeking readers’ internet browsing records. The charges were dropped. The paper’s owners won millions in a settlement after suing the sheriff’s office.
Last fall, after six terms in office, the voters decided enough was enough. America’s self-appointed “toughest sheriff” was soundly defeated by a Democrat. He was convicted on federal contempt of court charges with the distinct possibility of serving time in prison.
America’s toughest sheriff? Please. Trump’s pardon proves he’s a wimp who had to cash in a political debt to stay out of prison.
His tinfoil badge melts under the harsh beam of truth.
Neither the president nor the ex-sheriff – and certainly not the nation – have anything to celebrate over this shady pardon of convenience.