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Joe Arpaio Not Named to Replace John McCain

Q: Was Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff, appointed to finish John McCain’s term in the Senate?

A: No. That claim is made up — the Arizona governor has not yet named a replacement.


John McCain, Arizona’s longtime senator, died on Aug. 25, four-and-a-half years before his term ends in early 2023.

According to Arizona law, Gov. Doug Ducey is required to fill that vacancy with someone from the same party — in this case, a Republican. Voters will elect a new senator in the 2020 general election.

So far, Ducey has not signaled whom he will name to the seat.

But it is clear that the former Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, has not been named.

The claim that he had been sworn in to McCain’s seat was initially made on a website called Trumpbetrayed.us, which is part of a network of sites that describes its content as satire aimed at provoking conservatives.

The story was soon copied and posted as if it were news by a site that has no satire disclaimer, though. That site, Thelibertyraise.com, is registered to an owner in Macedonia.

The story claims: “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now Senator Joe Arpaio. President Trump, after ordering the Governor of New Mexico to appoint George Bailey to the board of the Savings and Loan committee, oversaw the swearing in of Arpaio by the Secretary of Agriculture.

That’s the first paragraph, and, already, there are some red flags that indicate the story isn’t true. First, filling a vacant Senate seat is governed by state law, and in Arizona, where McCain was a senator, that responsibility lies with the governor, not the president. Second, George Bailey is the main character who works at Bailey Brothers Building and Loan in the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

President Donald Trump has praised Arpaio as a patriot and granted the former sheriff a full pardon after he was convicted of contempt for ignoring an earlier court order that his office stop detaining people it suspected of being in the country without documentation.

Also, Arpaio did recently seek a Senate seat in Arizona. He ran in the Republican primary to fill the seat that will be left open by Sen. Jeff Flake, who is not seeking reelection. But Arpaio came in third in the Aug. 28 primary, bringing in 19 percent of the vote.

So, the former sheriff is not on his way to the Senate — for either McCain’s or Flake’s seat.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.


U.S. Senate. Class III – Senators Whose Terms of Service Expire in 2023. Accessed 29 Aug 2018.

Vacancy in the office of United States senator or representative. Arizona 16-222. Accessed 28 Aug 2018.

Wingett Sanchez, Yvonne. “Who could be appointed to John McCain’s Senate seat?” AZcentral.com. 24 Aug 2018.

UPDATE: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sworn In To Replace John McCain.” Thelibertyraise.com. 28 Aug 2018.

White House. “President Trump Pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio.” Official statement. 25 Aug 2017.

Trump, Donald. Executive Grant of Clemency — Joseph M. Arpaio. Filed 28 Aug 2017.

Arizona Secretary of State. 2018 primary election results. Accessed 29 Aug 2018.

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"Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sworn In To Replace John McCain."
Tuesday, August 28, 2018