DOUBLE SPRINGS - Joseph Michael Arpaio, described as America’s Toughest Sheriff--one who has not only taken an outspoken stance against illegal immigration but also has been the subject of several federal civil rights lawsuits-- is coming to a special event in Winston County on Friday, March 8.
Arpaio will be keynote speaker at the annual Ronald Reagan Republican fundraising dinner, where numerous local, state and even federal officials will be gathered on behalf of the Winston County Republican Party.
The event will start 6 p.m. at the Double Springs Municipal Building on Highway 195.
In fact, attendance is exceed the attendance of previous years with at least 500 to 600 expected, noted Event Coordinator Bonnie Sachs.
Tickets are $25, including dinner and program, and are available at the law office of Greg Farris on Main Street in Double Springs or by contacting Sachs at 205-272-0820.
People wishing to attend must have a ticket for entry, organizers said. Tickets will NOT be available at the door and are going fast, organizers stress.
U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt will also be a featured speaker that evening, according to Bonnie.
Arpaio, who served as the 36th sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona for 24 years, from 1993-2017, gained widespread national attention in 2005 when he took a controversial stance against illegal immigration.
In 2010, he became mixed in controversy regarding Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 relating to the anti-illegal immigration law, which was largely struck down by the Supreme Court of United States.
Arpaio has been accused of numerous types of police misconduct, including abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crime, criminal negligence, torture, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws and election law violations, reports indicated.
In fact, a federal court monitor was appointed to oversee his office’s operations due to complaints of racial profiling, with the U.S. Department of Justice concluding that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, reports also noted.
Harold Sachs, chief of state of the Alabama Republican Party, and his wife Bonnie met Arpaio back when he was sheriff in 2006.
The Sachs were watching news coverage of Arpaio on TV, which prompted the idea to travel to Arizona to visit him while enjoying a trip out west.
“I told Bonnie I really like that guy. I wanted to meet him,” Harold said. “The phone just happened to be there by the chair. I just picked up the phone, and got the number for Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.”
That call resulted in the Sachs traveling to Maricopa County to meet this sheriff who was the subject of so much news on TV.
During the visit, Sachs was talking with Arpaio in his office, when one one many lawsuits was placed on his desk.
“He felt a piece of paper that he got and said, ‘Here’s another one. They have sued me again,’” Harold recalled.
History of Arpaio’s actions during his career as sheriff is pretty extensive, as he was the subject of several federal civil rights lawsuits, one of which when he was named a defendant in a decade long suit where a federal court issued an injunction barring him from conducting further immigration round ups.
A federal court found that after the order was issued, Arpaio’s office continued to detain persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime was either being or had been committed.
President Donald Trump made additional headlines, when he, on Aug. 25, 2017, pardoned Arpaio after he was convicted on July 2017, of criminal contempt of court, according to reports.
In a separate racial profiling case ending in 2013, Arpaio was among those who were found to have unfairly targeted Hispanics during traffic stops, reports noted.
Harold recalled that during his visit with Arpaio in 2006, that prisoners in the Arizona jail were busting up the toilets, prompting Arpaio to give them all buckets to use, telling them it would months before a plumber could get there to fix them.
“That was last commode he ever had busted,” Harold laughed.
When prisoners were stealing underwear, Arpaio dyed the underwear pink, according to Harold.
“One of the things that stood out when we were there, we were going by and there were 20 (inmates) that were supposed to get out today,” Harold further noted. “He looked at his watch and told them ‘not a one of y’all are getting out until 12 o’clock’”
The inmates, Harold further recalled citing a separate incident, laughed when watching a movie when Old Yeller died, which prompted Arpaio to remove the TVs from the cells. This action resulted in a lawsuit, Harold further recalled.
Arpaio, Harold said, has slept at the jail, telling the inmates to quit complaining about the conditions, because he had slept there too.
“He said, ‘I’ve got more people in jail, than y’all have in Winston County,”’ Harold said.
“I have admired and respected Sheriff Joe Arpaio from the first time I have heard him speak,” Bonnie added.
“He is a man of courageous constitutional values,” she added. “What a fighter for our country, and to have him come to Winston County...is just an overwhelming honor to me.
“It’s not just his being well known...it’s his moral character. It’s his conservative values. It’s his constitutional right to die for. To me, that’s what it’s about,” Bonnie continued.
“It’s a big honor for Winston County,” added Harold. “Having met him makes a big difference, because I was really impressed to see him on TV, but when I met him in person, it’s the same guy you see on TV, his values and what he stands for.”
Although Arpaio sought another term as sheriff in 2016, he was defeated, losing the reelection to Democrat Paul Penzone.
It is believed that Arpaio’s contempt of court conviction seriously hurt his chances for reelection, reports indicated.
Penzone reportedly reversed many of Arpaio’s policies after taking office. Arpaio was also unsuccessful in election in Arizona’s Republican primary election for U.S. Senate in 2018.
“He has been sued by the federal government more probably more than any sheriff in the United States,” noted Harold.
“He won every battle except the last one,” Harold added.
During the Ronald Reagan dinner, state and federal officials will be recognized and given a few minutes to speak, but the format of the evening will be devoted to Arpaio and Congressman Aderholt.
Staff Sergeant Donna Johnson will sing the national anthem.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.