State Rep. Kavanagh Jokes About Sheriff Arpaio Cause Backlash

February 27, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
Rep. John Kavanagh talked about what is holding up the passing of the budget.

Arizona State House Rep. John Kavanagh let loose at the Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix last week. He made several jokes about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A civil rights group said those comments were offensive. 

Audio of the roast was obtained and posted online by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Kavanagh made several jokes about the immigration enforcement bill, SB1070 and the more recent religious freedom bill, SB1062. In the recording Kavanagh makes reference to the court appointed monitor overseeing the Sheriff’s department.

“I’m not the federal monitor. How many Hispanics did you pull over on your way over here Arpaio, huh...?" Kavanagh said. 

Kavanagh said the satire was directed at the sheriff not minorities.

“There was nothing obscene about this; there was nothing racist about this. In fact you would have thought these people would have been happy that I was roasting somebody who they don’t like, on issues that are of concern to them,” said Kavanagh

Kavanagh maintains his jokes were not an attack on Hispanics or other minority groups but an attempt to poke fun at Arpaio. He will not issue an apology, because he said  he did not do anything wrong.