Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday disputed a report that he refused to lower flags at his office in honor of Nelson Mandela.
Phoenix radio station KFYI reported this week that Arpaio had vowed not to lower the flag, saying the reason for his decision was “that Nelson Mandela’s name appeared on a terrorism watch list until 2008.”
The news came after a South Carolina sheriff last week announced he would defy a presidential order to fly flags at half mast in honor of the late South African leader.
However, on Wednesday, officer Christopher Hegstrom, a spokesman for Arpaio’s office, told TPM the radio story “was a poorly done report” and Arpaio’s office had asked for it to be “retracted.”
Lisa Allen, a spokeswoman for Arpaio, added that Arpaio was unaware of the presidential order, which applied to federal buildings, until he was contacted by reporters. According to Allen, when Arpaio heard about the order, he called for flags to be lowered through Monday, which was the final day the order was in effect.
“The Sheriff was told about the presidential order late Sunday afternoon by a reporter who called him on his cell,” Allen said. “Flags were ordered half staff til Monday sunset.”