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The ACLU Spent $600,000 to Raise Awareness About Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Here’s Why

The ACLU is getting in the middle of a federal election for the first time in its history, in hopes of informing voters of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s record of targeting and violating the rights of Latino residents, the HuffPost reported.

Arpaio was convicted last year of criminal contempt after he ignored orders from a federal judge to refrain from racially profiling and unlawfully detaining Latino residents in Maricopa County. President Donald Trump later pardoned the Arpaio, with the White House writing in a statement that during his time as sheriff, “Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”

The sheriff has a history of abuse and corruption. A 2011 lawsuit said that Arpaio’s deputies placed an undocumented pregnant woman in shackles while she was transported from one of Arpaio’s jails to a medical facility. He was also caught on video in 2008 describing what he called a “concentration camp” to hold undocumented immigrants. Arpaio’s officers also conducted regular night raids targeting and rounding up undocumented immigrants.

And now he’s running for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary.

“His influence on the policies and policing practices of Arizona was tremendous and was detrimental [to] people’s civil liberties,” Tony Cani, the political director of the Arizona chapter of the ACLU said, according to the HuffPost. For this reason, the nonprofit is getting involved in the election, informing voters of Arpaio’s record of racial profiling and targeted harassment of immigrants, while also demonstrating how Arpaio’s opponents are connected to his history of civil rights abuses.

“He’s one of the most extreme examples of a law enforcement official operating well outside the Constitution and abusing his power,” the Arizona ACLU chapter’s executive director, Alessandra Soler, told the HuffPost.

The group has spent $600,000 on canvassing in Phoenix and Tucson, and on television ads in both English and Spanish.

“No pardon or praise from the Trump will ever wash away Arpaio’s legacy of discrimination and abuse. No pardon or praise from the Trump will ever wash away Arpaio’s legacy of discrimination and abuse,” the group said in a statement shared on the ACLU’s website. “We fully intend to make sure that Arizona voters learn about the record and stances of the real Joe Arpaio.”