Vice President Pence praised former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court, as a “tireless champion of … the rule of law” during an event in Arizona on Tuesday.
Pence said at the tax event that he was “honored” by the former sheriff’s attendance, and called Arpaio a “great friend of this president and tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law,” to cheers from the crowd.
President Trump last year pardoned Arpaio, a vocal supporter of his on the campaign trail, after he was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to stop racially profiling Hispanic people at traffic stops for immigration checks.
Arpaio, who is running for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) Senate seat, filed an appeal in January to have the conviction cleared.
He argued in the filing that Judge Susan Bolton “refused to give the Sheriff a trial by jury,” and that her “verdict was completely unsupported by the evidence, among numerous other reasons.”
Bolton did not sentence Arpaio after Trump’s pardon, but also did not vacate her ruling against the former sheriff.
Arpaio is also well-known for helping to popularize the “birther” conspiracy that questioned former President Obama’s birthplace, a fringe theory that Trump also promoted.
He has long called his conviction politically motivated.
Arpaio is facing off against former state Sen. Kelli Ward and Rep. Martha McSally in the Aug. 28 GOP primary for Flake’s seat. The winner will likely take on Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November’s general election.