With his primary campaign for Congress entering what he called the short road, Republican Jim Pendergraph on Saturday drew support from controversial yet popular Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio spoke at a Pendergraph campaign rally that drew 100 people to Lancaster, N.C.'s BBQ in Huntersville ahead of the May 8 primary.
Arpaio and Pendergraph described each other as friends.
Both men have drawn questions over the years about their views on immigration. As Mecklenburg's former sheriff, Pendergraph launched the 287(g) program that identifies illegal immigrants in the jail. He took a federal job to increase state and local coordination of immigration laws.
Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County near Phoenix, is known for a hard-line approach toward immigration. The U.S. Justice Department has accused him of violating the civil rights of Latinos.
He said when Pendergraph was with the federal government, he praised the operations in Maricopa. Arpaio never forgot his help.
Pendergraph said Arpaio is "trying to protect the citizens of Arizona because the federal government won't." He called on the federal government to enforce the immigration laws.
Arpaio also said he hopes Congress will "finally look at (illegal immigration) and do something about it."
Arpaio drew questions about his investigation into the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth records.
He said his probe shows the documents were forged, and criticized other elected leaders and law enforcement for failing to look into the issue. Obama and others have long refuted claims the documents are false.
Saturday's rally also drew protesters. About 15 people stood outside holding signs with messages like "Arpaio how Arizona says hate!"
The protesters questioned why Arpaio spent so much time on immigration over crimes like sex abuse. Investigations by Arizona law enforcement authorities have shown Maricopa deputies failed to adequately look into hundreds of sex crimes between 2005 and 2007.
"It's really clear that Arpaio is a man that doesn't have his priorities straight," said activist Domenic Powell. "And it is unfortunate that Pendergraph wants his support."
Arpaio rejected the claims, saying his office "investigates everything whether it's politics or policy."
Most Popular Stories
- Aetna Leaving California's Individual Health Insurance Market
- Honda Says Sorry About the Lack of Electric Fits
- Comcast Takes a Stake in a YouTube Content Provider
- Calories Count: Starbucks to Post the Numbers on Menu Boards
- OSH Selling Most of Its Stores to Lowe's
- Is Stock Balloon Really a Pinata?
- First Person Cured of AIDS Virus Wants to Help Others
- Google Wants to Share PRISM Information
- Katy Perry: Learned About Divorce Via Text Message
- Boeing to Build Stretch-Dreamliners