Right-wing media have accused Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of being a liberal activist in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. However, Dupnik has previously encouraged gun ownership among his constituents, has advocated for citizenship checks of students in public schools, and supported the controversial Arizona immigration law after some provisions were removed.
Right-Wing Media Dismiss Dupnik As Partisan Activist
"Limbaugh "Speculate[s]" That Dupnik "Hope[s]" Loughner is Acquitted, Because "I Just Know How Liberals Are." From the January 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: We have more of the sheriff, by the way -- audio soundbite number 8 -- and in order, Saturday night -- this is before he appeared with Megyn Kelly on Fox on Sunday -- this is Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik held a press conference to talk about the mass shooting. And we have three soundbites from that press conference.
DUPNIK (audio clip): It's time as a country that we need to do a little soul-searching because I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this had not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think it's time that we did the soul-searching.
LIMBAUGH: So, here you have an unfortunate event. Many people shot, killed, wounded. And people in the radio business, some people in the TV business, see what on TV how our youngsters are being raised. You mean like the shooter, Sheriff? How was the shooter being raised, Sheriff? In your community, Sheriff. The shooter did what he did in your community. You're -- you're -- you're in charge of keeping that community safe, Sheriff. What did you do? Was this the first time you heard about the shooter, or did you have knowledge of the shooter before this? I would wager that the sheriff knew of the shooter long before this event.
Now that the sheriff's gone ahead now with the comments and he's given -- he has given the defense a case. My guess, the sheriff wouldn't mind if the shooter's acquitted. After all, it's not the shooter's fault. If you carry the sheriff's logic all the way out -- what, what do you mean H.R.? If the sheriff's going to speculate, I'm going to speculate. How does it feel?
Hey, Sheriff, I bet you hope he's acquitted, right? "What do you know about it, Limbaugh?" I don't know anything, I just know how liberals are, Sheriff. You probably have a tough time putting the guilty behind bars because it's always somebody else's fault, right, Sheriff? It's never's the guilty's fault. They didn't do it, somebody made them do it, right, Sheriff? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/10/10, emphasis added]
Malkin Dismisses Dupnik As A "Pro-Illegal Alien Amnesty Sheriff." In a January 10 post on her blog, blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote:
There has been zero indication that [accused shooter Jared] Loughner directly or explicitly complained about immigration; instead, he ranted about illiteracy in general and inveighed against grammar control. But this, of course, didn't stop pro-illegal alien amnesty sheriff Clarence Dupnik from shoehorning SB1070 and its aftermath into his press conference about the Tucson massacre. [MichelleMalkin.com, 1/10/11; emphasis in original]
NewsBusters: "In The End, Dupnik Is Just Another Democrat That Is Hostile To Republicans." In a January 9 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard claimed Dupnik "admitted that his department has not uncovered one shred of evidence to support his now well-publicized assertion" at the January 8 news conference regarding "vitriol." After including a video clip of Dupnik's January 9 interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Sheppard continued, "In the end, Dupnik is just another Democrat that is hostile to Republicans and is expressing his opinion as such. Yet media outlet after media outlet have quoted the comments he made Saturday as if they were coming from a legal perspective and not a political one." [NewsBusters, 1/9/11]
O'Reilly: "The Sheriff Of Pima County Clarence Dupnik Not Only A Law Enforcement Agent, He Is A Left-Wing Activist." From the January 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight. When law enforcement goes political: that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
The sheriff of Pima County, Clarence Dupnik, not only a law enforcement agent, he is a left-wing activist. And Mr. Dupnik, who has served Pima County for more than 30 years, has now ignited a national discussion about whether political rhetoric may have motivated the killer Jared Loughner. Sheriff Dupnik believes right-wing rhetoric contributed to the murders, although he admitted to Megyn Kelly on Sunday he has absolutely no evidence to back that up. Even so, Dupnik continues his campaign.
DUPNIK (video clip): It's my belief that -- that the hard right is -- is deliberately fueling the fire against public officials, elected officials, government, and the administration because it -- they think that in some way and maybe they are right, it benefits them in the election process.
O'REILLY: So why would the sheriff say that? Well, one look at his resume provides the answer. When the tough illegal alien law was passed in Arizona last year, here is how Sheriff Dupnik handled it.
[begin video clip]
GUY ATCHLEY (KGUN-TV news anchor): The Pima County sheriff says he has no intention of enforcing the new immigration law. Clarence Dupnik calls it racist, disgusting, and unnecessary. "Nine on Your Side" Steve Nunez is on "Immigration Watch."
DUPNIK: I think the law is one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever seen in 50 years.
STEVE NUNEZ (KGUN-TV correspondent): Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says he will not enforce the new immigration law.
NUNEZ: If the constitutionality of this law is held up, what do you do? Do you enforce it?
DUPNIK: No. Because we're going to keep doing what we have been doing all along. We don't need this law.
[end video clip]
O'REILLY: So who's "we," Sheriff? Certainly not the Arizona legislature, which passed the law. Certainly not the people of Arizona, 70 percent of whom support the law. I guess "we," Sheriff Dupnik, is you and your liberal pals. So here's a clue. As a sworn officer of the law, you have a duty to uphold it. By saying you would not, you have violated your oath.
"Talking Points" is not in business to put Sheriff Dupnik out of business. If the good people of Pima County like him that's fine with me. But let's be honest here Dupnik is an ideologue. He along with many far left pundits is using the murders of six people to make political points. With all due respect, I'd never, never vote for a person like that for anything.
Again, as an American, Clarence Dupnik is entitled to hold any opinion he wants, but as a law enforcement officer he has a responsibility to all the citizens. Sheriff Dupnik has turned a horrific murder case into a political circus. Who does that serve, Sheriff? What good does that do? You have made a terrible mistake, no question about it. And that's the memo. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/11/11]
Dupnik Supported Gun Ownership, AZ Immigration Law, Opposed Educating Undocumented Children
In 1981, Dupnik Encouraged Gun Ownership Among Constituents. From a January 10 article at Slate:
But a look through Dupnik's past reveals a much more complex figure than his current portrayal as a liberal Democratic crusader. Dupnik first joined the Tucson Police Department in 1958, was appointed sheriff of Pima County in 1980, and has won re-election ever since. Perpetually over-tasked and under-resourced, Dupnik's force has the near-impossible job of dealing with not just the usual case load, but also the continuous flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico. In 1981, Dupnik sent a message to all residents: Arm yourselves. Police couldn't adequately protect the populace, he said, because they didn't have sufficient manpower: "Not only are things not good, they are going to get worse. For those who are so inclined, it's time to start protecting yourselves." [Slate, 1/10/11]
Dupnik: "It's Wrong For The Taxpayers In This Country To Spend The Millions And Millions And Millions Of Dollars That We Do Catering To Illegals." From the same Slate article:
Dupnik provoked the Hispanic community again in April 2009 by suggesting that public schools should check students' immigration status when they enroll, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that denying enrollment to the children of illegal immigrants is unconstitutional. "It's wrong for the taxpayers in this country to spend the millions and millions and millions of dollars that we do catering to illegals," Dupnik said, including providing free education to their children. Rep. Raul Grijalva and 10 other prominent Democrats signed a letter requesting an apology. Grijalva even called Dupnik "Arpaio light." Dupnik refused to apologize and downplayed the backlash: "If you read the blogs, and I don't know if you do, I think you'll have a different opinion." [Slate, 1/10/11]
Dupnik Said Four Of Every 10 Students In One Tucson District "Are Illegal," Complained That "The Schools Have No Choice But To Educate Illegal Aliens." From an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News' On the Record:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (host): All right, let me ask this -- let me -- let me ask you a question. Because when we go back to this without the sort of whether the statute is constitutional or not or whatever it is and that's going to be battled out and has created quite a fire, I guess.
I'm actually trying to figure out how to solve the problem. When we started this interview with you you're saying it's a horrible problem. Obviously, I understand that you think the statue doesn't help but if it's a horrible problem it means that you haven't gotten a grip on it yet. You need something else.
So what do you need -- what do you see as the solution to the illegal immigration problem in your county?
DUPNIK: Well, I think we need -- we need two things. We need substantially more assistance from the federal government. It's their responsibility. And we need desperately, reform in the area of immigration. You know right now we have a number of magnets that we ignore, that are attracting people across this border and we're not really doing anything about it, substantially.
For example, I've been a critic of the schools. We have one school district here in Tucson, Arizona that has four out of ten students who are illegal. Yet, the schools have no choice but to educate illegal aliens. [Fox News, On the Record, 4/30/2010, via Nexis]
Dupnik Supported Arizona Immigration Law After Removal Of Profiling Provision. From the August 11, 2010, edition of Fox News' America Live:
DUPNIK: As a matter of fact, when the law was first passed, I was one of the most vocal opponents. And there was such an uproar that a few days later, the legislature met in special session and changed the law, so that no longer are Hispanics -- are we being pressured to profile Hispanics, which the original law would have caused us to do.
KELLY: So you don't have any problem with the law as it was amended, then, from the sound of it.
DUPNIK: I don't have any problem with it now. [Fox News, America Live, 8/11/10]