The effort to recall “America’s toughest sheriff,” Maricopa County, Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, fell short of the 355,000 voter signatures needed by yesterday afternoon.
Arpaio reacted to the outcome in a statement.
“After months of name calling, after the disparaging effigies and theatrics … this latest recall effort has failed,” the sheriff said. “This effort failed because the good people of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the wrongheaded idea of overturning an election.”
The recall campaign was launched by Respect Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona, which protested the sheriff’s aggressive approach to stopping illegal immigration, charging his office targets people on the basis of race, in violation of the Constitution.
Respect Arizona said it believes “our children deserve a sheriff that respects families, respects immigrants and respects Latinos.”
Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for Better Arizona, told the Los Angeles Times the two groups had nearly 300,000 signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday. He said the setback won’t slow down Arpaio’s critics, vowing “this fight is not over.”
In support of Arpaio, whose backers are as passionate as his enemies, a group called Citizens to Protect Fair Election Results was formed.
The group’s attorney Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, said “dangerous, subversive-like activities of Respect Arizona have the potential to launch this county and possibly the entire state in what can only be called an ‘Electoral Civil War’ that could cost the citizens of Arizona millions of taxpayer dollars.”
Klayman charged the allegations against Arpaio are “not only false on their face, but, in addition, also fraudulent since Respect Arizona obviously does not represent the majority of voters of Maricopa County, Arizona, who just re-elected Sheriff Arpaio a few months ago.”
Arpaio’s opponents contend he must be dismissed because his office has failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex crimes cases and has cost the county $25 million in legal settlements over treatment in county jails.
In addition, in a complaint brought by Latinos, a federal judge ruled last Friday that Arpaio and his deputies unconstitutionally target people because of race.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow came in response to a class-action lawsuit brought by Hispanic drivers. At issue was whether police can target illegal immigrants without racially profiling innocent citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin.
The ruling charges the agency stopped cars because they had dark-skinned people in them and arrested Latinos for suspected immigration violations without proper authority.
The sheriff strongly insists there has been no racial profiling, and he plans to appeal the decision.
Last summer, the Obama Justice Department closed a criminal probe into Arpaio and his deputies that also charged racial profiling of Latinos and unlawful arrest. The investigation began in 2008.
The Justice Department also sued Arizona for its law allowing state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
As WND reported, Arpaio has charged Obama “is waging war on Arizona over illegal immigration.”
Arpaio’s supporters have argued the sheriff won re-election fairly and that recall organizers shouldn’t be allowed to contest the election because they didn’t like the outcome.
Arpaio has said his office addressed the problems with the sex-crimes investigations and has made changes to prevent a repeat.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled regarding state Senate Bill 1070 that Arizona has the right to ask whether suspects are in the U.S. legally but cannot punish anyone for it.
In response to the ruling, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s suspended “the 287(g) program,” which allowed the DHS to deputize local, county and state law enforcement officers to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
“Evidently Obama didn’t get everything they wanted from the Supreme Court, so they decided to retaliate against Arizona,” Arpaio said at the time.
“What the Obama administration wants is amnesty,” Arpaio said. “DHS has made it clear the goal is to allow people here illegally to hit the streets.”
Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse team of volunteer investigators continues to probe President Obama’s eligibility for office, focusing on the birth certificate made public by the White House. Arpaio and the posse have concluded the birth certificate is a fraud and are urging Congress to investigate.
In April, a suspicious package addressed to Arpaio contained a bomb that was powerful enough to maim or even kill him, his office said.