“On this day, August 25, 2019, after consultation and approval from my wife of 61 years, Ava, I have decided to run to be reelected Sheriff,” Arpaio said. “Watch out world! We are back!”
Arpaio noted that his announcement date coincided with his wife’s birthday and the two-year anniversary of Trump’s pardoning him for what he called “a scurrilous misdemeanor contempt charge filed by President Obama’s administration.”
Arpaio had faced up to six months in prison after being convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants.
Critics said that his policy of detaining people on mere suspicion was racist and illegal, and that his refusal to honor a court’s order to stop was brazen.
Arpaio’s lawyers argued that the judge’s order enjoining their client’s conduct was “not clear,” and they suggested that Arpaio was merely doing what others do routinely: turning over those in the country illegally to the U.S. Border Patrol.
In a statement announcing the pardon, Trump made no mention of Arpaio’s offense but praised his past military service and dedication to fighting illegal immigration.
“Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service,” Trump said. “Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”
Arpaio had campaigned for Trump during his 2016 bid for the presidency.
As sheriff, Arpaio became well-known for forcing his inmates to wear pink underwear and sleep outdoors in his Tent City Jail.
Last year, Arpaio finished third in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat, with about 18 percent of the vote.
His bid to return to the sheriff’s office was panned by many of his former critics.
“President Trump might’ve pardoned him, but those who had families and communities destroyed by his unlawful tactics have not,” Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said in a statement. “Joe Arpaio is a racist — and he should never hold public office again.”
Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.