Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who is now running for US Senate, is distancing himself from a fringe publication that promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that he's given multiple interviews to.
The Republican candidate said Thursday he does not support anti-Semitism and was not aware the American Free Press published anti-Semitic articles.
"It was brought to my attention I gave interview to publication that supports antisemitism; I was unaware and don't support that view point," Arpaio tweeted Thursday.
The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that Arpaio has given five interviews to the American Free Press since 2014, most recently on January 21, 2017.
Before his tweet, Arpaio told The Arizona Republic that he was not going to criticize the American Free Press.
"I talk to all media, so what am I supposed to do? Investigate every media outlet to see what stories they write?" Arpaio told the Arizona newspaper. "I don't do that. You know that. I talk to all reporters, all publications."
Arpaio announced his candidacy in January. The former sheriff is one of several Republican candidates vying for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake's seat.
Arpaio is no stranger to controversy. He has been criticized for his hard-line tactics on illegal immigration and for "Tent City," an outdoor jail he oversaw when he was sheriff that human rights groups decried. Last year, he was convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, but was pardoned by President Donald Trump before serving any jail time.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the American Free Press, based in Washington, DC, as an active hate group. The publication regularly promotes conspiracy theories including that terrorism attacks on September 11, 2001, were a "Jewish plot" and the Holocaust was a hoax.
Arpaio is not the only Senate candidate who recently gave an interview to American Free Press. CNN reported that Rep. Lou Barletta, who is a Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate election, gave an interview to the website in October 2006.
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