Sheriff Joe Mocked Civil Rights Probe

'We arrested 500 just for spite,' he says on newly discovered tape

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 22, 2012 3:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you were under federal investigation for racial profiling, you might take it seriously. But you're not Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The AP has discovered a new tape in which the controversial lawman laughs about his failure to cooperate with the probe concerning his immigration arrests and mocks the investigators. "After they went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite," he told the crowd at a 2009 fundraiser. He brags about kicking investigators out of his office, and admits the controversy has been a fundraising boon.

Arpaio also seems to imply that he criminally investigated county officials because they cut his budget. "We have already indicted one, so I am not their favorite guy," he says. "The county has cut my budget $35 million just for spite. But I'm still locking them all up." Arpaio's cases against the officials were thrown out of court within months, and a lawyer representing one of them says the tape is as "close to a confession as you may ever get." But Arpaio stands by his comments, saying he only has one regret: "It wasn't 500. It was thousands."

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is seen during a press conference in this file photo.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is seen during a press conference in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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