Vice President Mike Pence appeared at an event in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, where he stood alongside and doled out accolades to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been convicted of illegally targeting Latinos.
“A great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law,” Pence said during a speech about tax cuts. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I’m honored to have you here.”
Arpaio, who is running for Senate in Arizona, engaged in unlawful policing and racial profiling during his time as sheriff, a 2011 report by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division determined.
His officers stopped Latino drivers four to nine times more frequently than they stopped others, and Arpaio became known for using derogatory terms such as “Mexican bitches.” He also oversaw a series of bizarre and draconian tactics in his county’s prison system, including forcing some people to parade around in pink underwear and reportedly calling his state’s jail a “concentration camp.” His office also ignored hundreds of sex abuse cases, according to an Associated Press investigation.
“Mike Pence’s all-but-endorsement of Joe Arpaio proves that there is no end in sight for the divisive and increasingly nasty fight for the GOP nomination,” Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said in a statement. “Arizonans want leaders who will get things done, not just partisan politicians who will add to the chaos in Washington.”
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt last year for violating a 2011 order that barred him and his staff from detaining people based on their suspected immigration status.
“If you’re going to come across that border, you should be arrested and get the consequences of it,” Arpaio told the Washington Examiner upon announcing his Senate run.
President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in August, saying ― much like Pence did ― that Arpaio is tough on immigration.
Many were quick to point out Arpaio’s abysmal record on law enforcement following Pence’s remarks:
Mike Pence is “honored” to have Joe Arpaio at his event? And he calls a bigoted criminal who tortured inmates a “strong champion of the rule of law”? Even Arizona Republicans know this man undermines the most basic of American values. https://t.co/RwcQtKk86S
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) May 2, 2018
This is embarrassing for Pence.
Arpaio is reviled in Arizona’s law enforcement community because he did *not* champion the rule of law. https://t.co/Tq4yI0jhE7
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) May 1, 2018
Arpaio directly flouted the rule of law on immigration https://t.co/50t4SBo0gw
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) May 1, 2018
The Department of Justice concluded that Joe Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history. He’s been accused of police misconduct, abuse of power, failure to investigate sex crimes, and unlawful enforcement of immigration laws.
Nicely done @VP. https://t.co/p3rkfMpyVk
— Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) May 1, 2018
This story has been updated with a statement from the Arizona Democratic Party.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.