PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey is not ready to put any distance between himself and Joe Arpaio.
“Let’s see how the court hearings play out,” the governor said in response to a question of whether he still supports the sheriff.
The comments came at the end of a week of testimony by the sheriff and some of his top deputies at a federal court hearing to determine if Arpaio should be found in contempt of court, including a bombshell admission by Arpaio that his attorney hired a private detective to investigate the wife of the judge hearing the case.
Arpaio and his top aides have admitted they did not carry out the judge’s orders in a racial-profiling case, essentially leaving Judge Murray Snow with only one question: whether there will be a financial penalty against the sheriff, and whether he will have to pay it out of his own pocket.
But there also is the possibility of criminal contempt charges.
Testimony resumes next month.
“Let’s see what the verdict is,” said the governor, who was endorsed in his 2014 Republican primary campaign by the sheriff. “I’m watching this with the same interest you are.”
Ducey showed no regret about accepting the sheriff’s endorsement, saying Arpaio deserves some praise. Still, the governor is keeping open his option to change his mind.
“Let’s see how the court hearings play out and then I’ll have further comment,” he said.