Joe Arpaio Returns To Birtherism

Joe Arpaio is saying he might reopen his "investigation" into former President Obama's birthplace if he's elected Senator.

Joe Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona who was pardoned by President Trump after being convicted for contempt of court in connection with the operation of the Sheriff’s Department and who earlier this year entered the race for the Republican nomination to succeed Jeff Flake in the Senate, is suggesting he might revive his birther investigation of former President Obama if he were elected to the Senate:

Republican Senate candidate and former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio suggested that he would revive the debunked claim that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is fraudulent if he’s elected to the Senate.

At a conservative convention last week, Arpaio recalled introducing President Donald Trump at a campaign rally where the former sheriff mentioned illegal immigration and the “birther” theory — that Obama was not born in the US and therefore was ineligible to be president.

“I don’t talk about it anymore, until I become the US senator … It has something to do with a document,” Arpaio said at the Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix, according to a video posted to YouTube Saturday by Tru Conservative TV.

“If I asked you guys — I’m a nothing now, but if I were still the sheriff, I could ask for your birth certificate,” he said. “So, I’m kind of dropping that right now.”

Arpaio then claimed that he proved “100%” that Obama’s birth certificate is a “fake document.”

Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 and released copies of his birth certificate in April 2011. Trump had publicly questioned Obama’s citizenship for several years before saying in a news conference during the 2016 election that he believed the nation’s first African-American president was born in the United States.

Arpaio has touted “birtherism” in the past, even launching a five-year long investigation into Obama’s birth certificate he concluded in 2016 even after Trump backed down from the claim. Arpaio claimed that the certificate was forged and cited a lab in Italy and handwriting expert in Hawaii, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Back in January, a day after announcing he’s running for Senate, Arpaio argued on CNN that Obama’s birth certificate was a “phony document.”

“No doubt about it, we have the evidence, I’m not going to go into all the details, yeah, it’s a phony document,” Arpaio told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Primetime.”

Arpaio, of course, became one of the most prominent promotes of the utterly discredited birther argument around the same time that President Trump did in 2011, and he continued to push the idea long after the Obama White House produced the former President’s Birth Certificate and after Trump himself had stopped talking about it. For several years afterward, for example, Arpaio used his office’s resource to “investigate” the matter and to purport to examine the document that the White House had produced, although it’s apparent that this examination involved very little more than examining photographs of the document that the White House had produced back in April 2011. At one point, Arpaio claimed that he had proven that the document that the White House was fraudulent, and continued to pursue those claims even after losing his last re-election bid in November 2016.

This is obviously an effort by Arpaio to appeal to his base and to the Tea Party voters that he is competing for the GOP primary against Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward. There hasn’t been much in the way of polling in this race in nearly three months, but the last round that we saw in January showed Arpaio in a surprisingly strong second place at roughly 22% behind Congresswoman Martha McSally in the lead with roughly 33% and Ward trailing in third place with roughly 19% of the vote. The primary in this race doesn’t take place until August, though, so it’s far too early to say what direction this race might be taking. Suffice it to say, though, that we’re likely to see Arpaio and Ward battle it out for the far-right/Tea Party vote while McSally tries to steer some sort of middle course that allows her to win a plurality. Since Arizona does not have a runoff election, that would be enough to get her the nomination and go on to the General Election against likely Democratic nominee Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.

FILED UNDER: 2018 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MBunge says:

    Always remember, kids, crazy conspiracy theories are only bad when other people believe them!


  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Time to get back on your meds, MBunge.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    One can’t “return” to a thing that was never left behind to begin with. His racism is lock, stock, and barrel who he is.

  4. Mister Bluster says:

    @MBunge:..crazy conspiracy theories
    So you are admitting that Arpaio’s “birther” idea that Obama was born outside the United States is a crazy conspiracy theory.

  5. Tony W says:

    Arpaio is the Roy Moore of Arizona.

    I predict it won’t be long before he is prancing around the stage in a cowboy costume….

  6. Kylopod says:

    Maybe if he’s elected he will launch an investigation that will finally end with Obama being impeached and removed from office!

  7. CSK says:

    Quite apart from any other consideration, what is it that Arpaio hopes to accomplish? Does he think it’s possible to nullify or revoke the Obama presidency retroactively?

  8. CSK says:

    @Tony W:

    Brandishing a wee derringer.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:


    Does he think it’s possible to nullify or revoke the Obama presidency retroactively?

    WHy not? trump does.

  10. CSK says:


    For some reason, I’m reminded of Rick Santorum promising back in 2012 that the first thing he’d do if elected president would be to make a speech informing us that “birth control is not okay for married Christian couples.”

  11. Pete S says:

    @CSK: All that he hopes to accomplish is to separate some morons from their money, in support of his losing senate campaign. As a Trump friend and confidante I would imagine he has a way to siphon campaign contributions into his own wallet, and a pardon waiting for him if he gets caught.

    But a serious question – if this is how Trump-backed candidates have to talk to get money and votes from Trump supporters, why do we ever hear that we should be nicer to them? Arpaio is openly treating Republicans like they are idiots. If I remember Ward from previous elections she treats Republican voters like idiots. And collectively they are outpolling the candidate who is just a normal Republican.

    No liberal treats Republican voters with as much disrespect as Republican politicians do. They are just better at lying about how they feel about their voters.

  12. al-Ameda says:


    Always remember, kids, crazy conspiracy theories are only bad when other people believe them!

    You mean like about 50% of the Republican Party? Also, your Party elected a man who, de-facto, headed up the Birther Movement, and ran a 2 year private Birther investigation of Obama.

  13. Barry says:

    @MBunge: “Always remember, kids, crazy conspiracy theories are only bad when other people believe them!”

    That’s bad, even for you!

  14. Kathy says:

    Actually Obama was born in Atlantis from alien parents engaged in building the pyramids to store grain.

  15. Joe says:

    After Arpaio gets to the bottom of the birther thing, perhaps he can look into Benghazi or finish up the White Water kerfuffle.

  16. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Tony W: I don’t think it will be a cowboy costume, it will be a sheriff’s costume borrowed from David Clarke.

  17. inhumans99 says:


    Mbunge are you and Paul L one and the same? Makes sense my friend, what point are you trying to make? I suspect you are trying to be like Johnny in Airplane! and pop quickly into and out of a thread to say something like And Leon’s getting larger! The big difference is that Johnny was hilarious in Airplane! and those hit and run zingers were actually..ummm well, you know…funny.

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    @Pete S:..Arpaio is openly treating Republicans like they are idiots.

    At least the man knows his audience!

  19. KM says:


    But a serious question – if this is how Trump-backed candidates have to talk to get money and votes from Trump supporters, why do we ever hear that we should be nicer to them?

    Shhhh, you’re not supposed to tell the idiots they’re idiots – it hurts their feelings and renders you a smug liberal for belittling them in pointing out the obvious. Besides, we have to respect their personal choices when they choose to follow a blatant con man peddling old lies that don’t even matter anymore. Otherwise we’re just being condescending elites toward Real America and that’s Not OK.

    Remember, you can’t offend snowflake Republicans and note they are deplorables. IOIYAR doesn’t apply to you!