Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Friday that the Justice Department’s extensive three-and-a-half-year probe of his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was all just part of a bid for President Obama to win the Hispanic vote in 2012, even though the investigation began five months before Obama was even elected.
Responding to the Civil Rights Division’s findings that Arpaio “promoted a culture of bias” within the MCSO where detention officers called Latino inmates “wetbacks” and “Mexican bitches,” Arpaio took to Fox News on Friday afternoon to criticize Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez for opening up DOJ’s Thursday press conference with the words “buenos dias.”
Arpaio also claimed he’d “been working with the Justice Department” even though he refused to turn over documents he was legally required to disclose for over a year. He called DOJ’s announcement a “sneak attack” even though the preliminary investigation into the MCSO was opened in June 2008.
Arpaio said his office “took care of” a “couple isolated incidents” of deputies pulling over Hispanic residents without cause, even though DOJ’s report found Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over.
He said it was “ridiculous” for DOJ to characterize his alleged civil rights violations as egregious.
“We’re going to fight back. We’re going to show the politics involved,” Arpaio said. “Why are they getting into this at this time, just before the election? I can go on and on about the politics, but you find the timing of all of this very suspicious.”
One thing is certain: Arpaio wouldn’t be stepping down voluntarily.
“Are you serious?” he said when asked if he had any plans to leave office. “No way in a million years. We haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve been sheriff almost 20 years. I’m not going to be driven out of office for following the law.”
“I’m not going to back down because of politics, because the president wants to get the Hispanic vote,” Arpaio said. “It’s never going to happen.”