GOP Lawmaker In Hot Water Over Racially-Charged Joe Arpaio Jokes

02/27/2014 10:24 am ET | Updated Feb 27, 2014

Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) is facing heat for some racially-charged jokes at a recent roast of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The Southern Poverty Law Center posted audio to YouTube on Wednesday, revealing Kavanagh's comments at last Saturday's Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix.

“How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio?” Kavanagh joked, drawing loud applause from the crowd.

Kavanagh dismissed the criticism, telling the Arizona Republic that the event was "satire."

“They are creating controversy where it doesn’t exist, perhaps for their own political purposes,” he told the paper. “This was a roast. It was satire and it was at a private closed event, so I disagree with them.”

Kavanagh also joked about SB 1062, the anti-gay bill that would have let businesses refuse service for "religious freedom" reasons. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed the legislation Wednesday night.

"Now a lot of people claim that SB 1062 is gonna cause discrimination based upon religion in Arizona," Kavanagh said last Saturday. "And I scoffed at that until tonight. When a Muslim waiter serving up here walked up to Sheriff Joe, wouldn’t give him his dinner 'cause he said ‘I don’t serve swine.'"

Arpaio was relatively quiet about the SB 1062 bill, telling KTAR radio Tuesday that he had "no opinion."

"I haven't studied it," Arpaio added. "If I was running for governor or if I was governor I would face it."

Listen to the full audio of Kavanagh's remarks below:

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