Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — sued by the Justice Department on Thursday for not cooperating with an investigation into civil rights violations — said Friday that federal officials should be thanking him for enforcing immigration laws instead of declaring “war against Arizona.”
Arpaio, who has been a magnet for controversy with stunts such as his parading of prisoners donning pink underwear outside of the country jail, said on MSNBC that his office was “trying to negotiate” with DOJ, but wanted to be given a clear reason why DOJ wanted certain documents before turning anything over.
The DOJ, however, disagreed that Arpaio needed to understand their reasoning. Department officials said Thursday that they were unaware of any other police department or sheriff’s office that had refused to cooperate with an investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in the past 30 years. The request for documents first came in March 2009, and by the time they filed the lawsuit, DOJ said that all cooperative measures had been exhausted.
Arpaio insisted to MSNBC viewers that DOJ officials have access to jails and employees and that they had resolved that issue.
“A year and a half they have been investigating me and my office. A year and a half for alleged racial profiling,” Arpaio said. “They can’t come up with anything. Now they’re going to sue over some documents? What is that all about?”
Video of Arpaio’s MSNBC appearance is embedded below.