The respective chairmen of Fresno County’s Republican and Democratic parties are not mincing words when it comes to Friday’s appearance of Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a local GOP fundraiser.

In fact, they are going at it like pugilists Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did before they squared off in Las Vegas last month.

And even Arpaio got into the act Thursday by taking a stab at Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, a fellow Republican. Brand is not attending the event.

 

Arpaio was convicted this past summer of contempt of court for continuing to have his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office engage in illegal racial profiling. He was later pardoned by President Donald Trump (Arpaio’s invitation came before the pardon).

The event, which was initially billed as a celebration of gun rights, is now called “1st and 2nd Amendment Celebration.”

“We just felt (Arpaio) deserves to exercise his First Amendment right of free speech. We also should be allowed to have our First Amendment right to invite him and hear him,” said Fresno County Republican Party Chairman Fred Vanderhoof of the change.

Wrote Fresno County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Evans in an email to the media:

“Fresno Republicans can whisk Joe Arpaio in on a fancy private jet, and they can hide him behind the iron bars of a fancy private club, but they can’t hide the hate, the racism or the disgraceful disregard for the rule of law that Joe Arpaio represents. They are showing us clearly what their values truly are with this event.”

The name of the event isn’t the only thing that has changed. So has the date and the location.

A Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur (translation: Day of Atonement) , the holiest night on the Jewish calendar, starts Friday night. It is the religious observance where Jewish pray to be written in the Book of Life and ask forgiveness of sin. Many fast from sundown to sundown and refrain from normal activities (such as work and attending political fundraisers).

Arpaio’s visit was initially scheduled for Sept. 23 before being rescheduled to Friday. Vanderhoof said there was a mistake made in booking, and that Friday was the only day Arpaio was available.

“We feel really badly about that,” Vanderhoof said about the conflict with the Jewish calendar. “We didn’t want to do that, we preferred not to. But, we do that or not have the event at all.”

Why was Venue Switched?

The location changed from TorNino’s near Shaw Avenue and Highway 41 in central Fresno to Sunnyside Events near Clovis Avenue and Kings Canyon Boulevard in the southeast part of the city.

Evans says the change was made to reduce the number of protesters. Nonsense says Vanderhoof.

“The Fresno County Republican Party … has scrambled to secure an alternative location where the former sheriff — who was defeated for reelection in 2016 and would be presently in jail but for successfully securing a pardon from Donald Trump through begging and pleading on national television — won’t be visibly outnumbered by peaceful demonstrators protesting his hateful, bigoted message,” Evans said.

Vanderhoof said it was just a matter of logistics: “We felt it would be better for traffic. It was better to move into an area that would be easier at rush hour.”

A sold-out crowd of 300 is expected. While Vanderhoof would not reveal how much has been raised thus far, a post on the Republican Party’s Facebook site says individual tickets are $70 with a VIP Gold table (10 people) going for $1,500.

Protests are scheduled. Evans says staging will take place at the ARCO station nearby. Also, a flash mob is planning to demonstrate on the Sunnyside Events grounds.

Evans called for the event to be canceled. Vanderhoof says that won’t happen.

He’s a racist; he’s not a racist

Evans’ rhetoric follows critics of Arpaio, who served six terms of sheriff before losing a re-election bid last year.

“Fresno Republicans ignited controversy with their decision to invite the former Arizona sheriff long known as one of the most virulently racist and notoriously abusive officials in the country,” Evans said.

Countered Vanderhoof: “This racial charge is false. The proof of that is that he has grandchildren of Hispanic descent. He has a higher percentage of Hispanic staff and deputies in his sheriff’s department than any other department in (Arizona). He’s promoted more Hispanics to command positions in his sheriff’s department. … It’s a typical left-wing charge, (playing) the race card. He’s a great family man.”

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