Joe Arpaio, America’s most notorious sheriff, announced last week that he will subpoena financial records of the community activist group ACORN. Arpaio believes that ACORN used federal funds intended for social services to launch a public relations campaign against him and his controversial immigration practices.
Arpaio is a hero amongst anti-immigration zealots thanks to his Arizona police department’s ruthless policies related to cracking down on illegal immigrants. In March, the House Judiciary Committee asked Arpaio to testify (he declined) about accusations that he promoted crime sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods and routinely used racial profiling to target undocumented workers. That same month, a group of ten Republican lawmakers declared the allegations baseless and criticized the DOJ investigation for “politicizing or chilling immigration efforts.” To date, the DOJ has not reprimanded Arpaio.
Now, Arpaio is claiming that ACORN helped to fund a Mexican national’s racial discrimination suit against him. In a statement, Arpaio said that he will prove that “ACORN is in bed with the anti-immigration enforcement organizations, which continue to demonstrate in front of my office trying to thwart my officers from enforcing state and federal law.” (Arpaio has a track record of blaming others for his problems: Earlier this month, he claimed that Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon was behind the DOJ probe and asked the FBI to investigate.)
ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson says that there is no basis for these claims and welcomes Arpaio’s opposition. “Sheriff Arpaio has long been the poster child of racist and prejudiced behavior around law enforcement,” he told me. “I’m confident that Sheriff Arpaio attacking Acorn is proof that we’re heading in the right direction.”