"America's Toughest Sheriff," Joe Arpaio makes his way into Tampa RNC

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Just hours earlier, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that two news executives for the Phoenix New Timescan sue Arpaio's office for their 2007 arrests.

The two officials with the alternative newsweekly were arrested at their homes in the middle of the night after the paper reported that the sheriff's office planned to use a subpoena to figure out who was talking to journalists about Arpaio.

When CL informed Arpaio that our paper was an alternative newsweekly, he immediately inquired if it was aligned with the chain that owns New Times, Village Voice Media.

We informed him that we were not.

Before the conversation could continue, a woman responsible for checking credentials noticed the sheriff and became extremely excited, grabbing Arpaio by his arm and leading him up to the front of the line.

And that was our exchange with "America's Toughest Sheriff."

  • Joe Arpaio outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Wednesday

Though undoubtedly he would have been met with thunderous applause if he'd been given a speaking slot at the RNC, "America's toughest sheriff," the notorious (some say racist) sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, will be speaking in Tampa on Thursday — at Lowry Park Zoo.

Waiting in the security line early Wednesday evening to enter the Tampa Bay Times Forum, CL realized that the controversial cop, 80 years young and running for a sixth four-year term this November, was standing before us. We then exchanged in some extremely small talk.

We asked what he thought of the most recent national story written about him, a piece in Rolling Stone published earlier this month.

"It's all a rehash," he said of that story, which is actually pretty accurate, only interesting to those who have never heard of some of the sheriff's outlandish antics over the years.

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