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ACLU spending money in a federal election for the first time in history to oppose one candidate

The American Civil Liberties Union is spending $720,000 to oppose former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his quest for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s stance on immigration has led the American Civil Liberties Union to spend $720,000 to oppose his race for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. The money is being spent on television commercials and to send people into neighborhoods to hand out fliers, The Associated Press reported.

Has the ACLU ever done this?

Steve Kilar, a spokesman for an ACLU office in Arizona, told The Associated Press that the group is getting involved this year in races in Arizona and other parts of the nation to stress the importance of civil liberties to voters.

It marks the first time the ACLU has participated in voter “education efforts” for a federal election, Kilar told The AP.

“Joe Arpaio’s record in particular is so emblematic of what can happen if people aren’t paying attention to civil liberty records of the people they are electing,” Kilar told the news outlet.

He added that the ACLU does not endorse candidates.

The ACLU was behind a nearly 11-year-old lawsuit that challenged Arpaio’s traffic patrols that targeted illegal immigrants. The patrols ultimately led to federal judge to rule that the sheriff’s department was practicing racial profiling, according to the report.

Arpaio faced a criminal contempt of court conviction for ignoring the judge’s order to stop the immigration patrols. About a year ago, Arpaio, 86, avoided a possible jail sentence when he was pardoned by President Donald Trump.

“I am pretty happy that they are worried about me,” said Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff.

Arpaio believes the ACLU is concerned he will win the Aug. 28 GOP primary and go on to defeat Kyrsten Sinema, who is considered the Democratic front-runner, in the Nov. 6 general election, according to the report.

Voters can likely expect the ACLU to get involved in political races in the future.

“Nationally, I will say that this isn’t the last time you will see it happen,” Kilar said.

Was Trump brought into the mix?

Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director, claims the group’s new focus is driven by new members who believe President Donald Trump is posing a threat to civil liberties.

Arpaio’s GOP opponents are U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and former state Sen. Kelli Ward. The candidates are competing to fill a seat being vacated by Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who is retiring.

The ACLU reported expenditures of $400,000 on Wednesday, according to the report.

One last thing…
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