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Will political baggage slow Arpaio's Senate run?

The former sheriff's combative approach to law enforcement came with a heavy cost.

Joe Arpaio faced plenty of controversy during his time Maricopa County's sheriff.

If he wants to be Arizona's next U.S. Senator, he'll have to defend the way he led the sheriff's office. His record of abuses of power and misspent funds is well documented in court and by former employees.

His opponents in the primaries will likely use that record against him.

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Arpaio's combative, aggressive approach to law enforcement won him many supporters who liked a no-nonsense sheriff who punched back. But Arpaio's approach came with a heavy cost.

He once launched a baseless investigation against 11 county politicians and employees, including two sitting judges who he accused as being part of a criminal enterprise. The cost of the imaginary corruption was $51 million in legal settlements and attorney's fees.

He put two newspaper editors in jail after they published a story he didn't like, setting them up for a $3.75 million settlement for wrongful arrest.

He even arrested an actor who was part of a political campaign, accusing him of impersonating a deputy. The actor won a $125,000 settlement.

Then there are the jail lawsuits brought against Arpaio, which are estimated to have cost tens of millions of dollars: A 1996 wrongful death suit ($8.25 million) and a 2005 death of a diabetic woman whose family said she was denied medical treatment ($3.2 million).

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His agency's widely publicized human smuggling unit was later exposed in court for violating the civil rights of immigrants and citizens alike, costing Maricopa County more than $70 million. That tap continues growing as new leadership works to bring the office into onstitutional policing standards.

The collateral damage of Arpaio's 22 years as sheriff will no doubt follow him into a new political campaign. Supporters say any sheriff with such a long tenure is bound to have missteps, and for them, Arpaio's career has been worth the cost.

He's always maintained a policy never to admit guilt or wrongdoing in settlements, defending his record and saying what matters most is how voters perceive him. That'll be tested in his Senate campaign.

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