Former Maricopa County sheriff and current Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate Joe Arpaio has acknowledged that he has given interviews to the American Free Press, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called anti-Semitic.
The response from the Valley’s Jewish community has been swift.
“The widely known anti-Semitic bias of the American Free Press ought to be sufficient reason for anyone not to associate themselves with it,” said a statement from Karolyn Benger, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “Public figures should exercise care to avoid letting their own credibility legitimize such a publication.”
According to the Arizona Republic, Arpaio has declined to publicly criticize the American Free Press and its extremist articles. Arpaio has not returned JN’s request for comment.
After the Arizona Republic story was published, Arpaio sent out a tweet on Feb. 1, which said, “It was brought to my attention I gave interview to publication that supports anti-Semitism; I was unaware and don’t support that view point.”
The ADL describes the American Free Press as “an anti-Semitic and conspiracy oriented newspaper published by longtime white supremacist Willis Carto.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center described Carto, who died in 2015, as “pro-Nazi [with] rabidly anti-Jewish views” and the founder of the “first major American Holocaust-denial outfit, the Institute for Historical Review.”
“Joe Arpaio has interviewed with an anti-Semitic publication at least five times. This is an incredibly disturbing pattern,” said Carlos Galindo-Elvira, ADL Arizona regional director. “We join with others in this community to reject Arpaio’s embrace of repeated interviews with an anti-Semitic publication.”
As of press time, neither the national Republican Jewish Coalition nor the local chapter had issued a comment on the latest claims against Arpaio.
Last year, the Republican Arpaio lost his bid for a seventh term to Democrat Paul Penzone.
Throughout his time as Maricopa County’s sheriff, Arpaio was a strong supporter of the state’s SB 1070 law that allowed police to question the immigration status of someone who could not produce government-issued ID when detained for a crime or a violation.
The law generated worries about maintaining individuals’ constitutional rights, especially among local Hispanics. The ADL and several local Jewish leaders spoke out against the law. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually struck down large parts of the law.
Arpaio also pushed the debunked conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama’s U.S. birth certificate was a fake.
In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. He faced up to six months in jail. However, President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, a long-time Trump supporter.
The U.S. Senate seat went up for grabs when current Sen. Jeff Flake announced he would not seek reelection. In the GOP primary, Arpaio faces Craig Brittain, former state senator Kelli Ward, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and Nicholas Tutora. The primary will be held on Aug. 28. JN