Democratic sheriff candidate attacks Arpaio over 'birther' probe

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- He's trying to topple the powerful Republican sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio.

On Wednesday, Paul Penzone hit the airwaves with his first television ad of the campaign by slamming Arpaio for wasting time and money investigating President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

"We know that it was politically motivated. The sheriff recognizes it's a polarizing issue that has nothing to do with public safety for us but it benefits him politically," Penzone said in the 31-second ad.

He goes on to call Arpaio's investigation a, "gimmick." The commercial appears just a day after Arpaio tried breathing new life into the so-called "birther" movement.

On Tuesday, Arpaio held a highly promoted news conference in which he declared Obama's birth certificate a fraud.

Arpaio continues to promote the discredited theory that Obama was not born in American and is therefore not eligible to be president.

He does this despite the fact officials in Obama's home state of Hawaii have released documentation showing Obama was born in this country.

Regardless, Penzone has his work cut out for him as Arpaio, who has been in office for 20 years, has amassed an unprecedented campaign war chest for the race.

Recently, the sheriff reported raising $6.8 million, an unheard of amount for a race on this level. To put it in perspective, Arpaio raised a record amount of $600,000 in his 2008 run.

Penzone raised about $148,000, while the Independent candidate Mike Stauffer raised about $43,000.