“When I think back: How did I survive for 24 years with all the controversy and heat?,” former Maricopa County, Az., Sheriff Joe Arpaio asked in an interview before he left office on Sunday, reports the Arizona Republic. “I have a lot of projects in mind. So I’m not going away,” he said, but he was coy about what those projects will entail. Though it seems increasingly unlikely he will be chosen for a top position under President-elect Donald Trump, Arpaio appears to be holding out hope for some role in the administration. “If he calls, I’ll listen to him,” he said. “When the president calls, everybody says, ‘I must serve my country.’ I’ve served my country for 55 years.”
He plans to speak around the country about “the war on cops,” he said. Since Arpaio took office in 1993, cases involving him or his office have cost taxpayers upward of $140 million in legal expenses, settlements, and court awards. There were enormous court awards for deaths in the Maricopa County jails. He arrested sitting judges, supervisors and county employees in 2008 and 2009. All of the cases fell apart. All of the targets sued and settled. All of the pending civil lawsuits against the sheriff stay with the office and will be passed on to new sheriff Paul Penzone. Arpaio is personally bound by the criminal contempt charge, which was requested by a federal judge and is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section. Trial is set for April 4. Given that Arpaio is no longer in office and counts the nation’s president-elect as an ally, it appears unlikely that he’ll do prison time if he is found guilty.