Most people know him simply as “Sheriff Joe” – the self-proclaimed toughest lawman in the United States. And, apparently, the five-term boss of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Phoenix wants another four years.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio formally announced his re-election campaign Thursday, boasting a record $6 million war chest and promising to “continue to protect the citizens of Maricopa County by enforcing all the laws.” That would include immigration law that has gotten the sheriff and his department crosswise with the Justice Department in Washington.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as sheriff of Maricopa County,” said the embattled 79-year-old sheriff, who had considered a run for the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona being vacated by Republican Sen. Jon Kyl but determined “there was still much work to do as sheriff.”

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, who heads the department’s Civil Rights Division, said during a Dec. 15 news conference that a three-year civil investigation found that the sheriff and his deputies engaged in unconstitutional conduct and violations of federal law that jeopardized his “commitment to fair and effective” law enforcement.

The investigation resulted in a decision by Homeland Security to strip Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies of their authority to determine whether jailed inmates were in the country illegally and restricted the office’s use of a federal fingerprint program to identify illegal immigrants.

The sheriff’s office is expected to respond to the Justice Department report by Jan. 18. A separate federal grand jury investigation of the office also is continuing.

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