Las Vegas Sun

September 30, 2014

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio: ‘Politicians should be thanking me’

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to Las Vegas-area journalists and bloggers Friday, May 7, 2010.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio thinks Nevada owes him some gratitude.

The self-appointed "toughest sheriff in America" maintains that his immigration policies - seen by many as racist - have kept thousands of illegal immigrants out of the Silver State. He boasts that 2,000 illegal alien drug smugglers, many on their way to Nevada, have been arrested in his Maricopa County jurisdiction since Arizona's human smuggling law took effect.

"The politicians should be thanking me, but they don't," Arpaio told the Sun today. "I'm the one guy who knows where the border is and is cracking down on illegal immigration."

Arpaio will visit Las Vegas on Tuesday to speak to Tea Party supporters and stump for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle. Arpaio lived in Vegas for six months in 1957 working as a police officer.

Arpaio has never met Angle, who speaks of him often and advocates that every state have a sheriff like him, but he has endorsed her.

"I like the fact that she's a fighter," Arpaio said. "I anticipate she'll be elected, which shows you the mood of the country."

Arpaio said the Tea Party Express is paying his way to Nevada. He won't receive a speaking fee, he said.

"I never pay a penny of county money or my money," he said.

Arpaio spoke at a similar Tea Party Express rally in Las Vegas in May. More than 200 demonstrators showed up to protest his tough immigration policies. Arpaio said he hopes they show up again.

"I try to talk to them, but they usually just scream at me," he said.

Arpaio has crisscrossed the nation this year supporting conservative candidates and speaking at Tea Party events. He has been to so many places in the past few months, he has trouble keeping track of them all.

His track record in getting people elected is spotty. Many of the "underdogs" he has endorsed have lost.

But his travel has paid off - for him. In the past year, Arpaio raised $4 million for his 2012 re-election bid, the highest - by millions - ever raised by an Arizona county politician.

With all that money in his war chest, many have speculated that Arpaio might have a higher title in mind - governor, or perhaps even president.

"Everybody knows I could win for governor," Arpaio said. "But I'm staying sheriff."

Arpaio also has legal troubles to consider. He is under several federal investigations for allegedly violating prisoners' civil rights and abusing his power to wrongly prosecute people for political reasons.

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