Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Photo: Courthouse News
U.S. Rep. Steve Knight termed President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio “improper” in a letter to a constituent Monday.
Knight, R-Palmdale, a retired LAPD officer, was responding to an inquiry from John Windsor of Castaic, who expressed concerns regarding the propriety of the pardon.
Arpaio was convicted of racial profiling and discrimination, but not yet sentenced when he was pardoned.
The text of Knight’s letter to Windsor follows:
September 11, 2017
Mr. John Windsor
(address on) Live Oak Road, Castaic
Dear Mr. Windsor:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about President Trump pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
As you may know, Arpaio is the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. During his tenure, Arpaio became an extremely controversial figure for his strategies to combat illegal immigration and management of the county jail. In addition, Arpaio became notorious several years ago for pushing the debunked theory that President Obama was not born in the United States.
After Arpaio was sued for allegations that his practices promoted racial profiling and discrimination, a federal judge issued an order for the Sheriff to immediately stop the practices in question. Despite this order, Arpaio continued these practices and was later convicted of contempt of court and further proceedings were being conducted for alleged criminal intent.
On August 25, President Trump issued a Presidential Pardon for Arpaio, despite the fact that there has yet to be any sentence levied against the former Sheriff. In addition, this pardon was not processed through the normal Department of Justice clemency procedures. While the office of the President reserves the authority to grant pardons as best seen fit, the circumstances surrounding this case and nature of Arpaio’s transgressions lead me to believe this pardon was improper.
As a former LAPD officer, the rule of law and the order established by the judiciary is extremely important to me. Given that Arpaio was a vocal and ardent supporter of President Trump throughout the 2016 election, I am deeply concerned that this pardon may have been issued as a political favor rather than a tool for justice. In addition, reports of the tactics used by Arpaio’s Sheriff’s Department do not reflect an organization that treated all of its constituents equally under the law. Many of his decisions seem to have been for the purpose of generating media attention, rather than being in the service of justice and order.
While past Presidents have used their pardon powers for controversial reasons that many deemed improper, this does not give a pass to the current administration to do so as well. It is my hope that President Trump exercises more prudence in future deliberations over this immense responsibility. Rest assured I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to monitor the administration’s actions and as my colleagues and I in congress continue to serve the American people.
As always, I appreciate your feedback and look forward to hearing from you in the future. It is an honor to represent you in Congress. For more information on constituent services, current legislation, and to sign up for my E-newsletter, please visit my website at www.knight.house.gov.
Member of Congress