One allegation might raise an eyebrow.
A second complaint could be seen as troublesome.
A third complaint?
You know the old adage ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire?’ If that’s the case then the sheriff-election meddling controversy is a four-alarm fire. That’s the thing about adages. They are usually true.
This week, prosecutor Kimberly Musselman, running for an open county judge seat, became the third candidate in three different races to allege that Sheriff Wayne Ivey offered an alternative position if she were to drop out of the race.
In Musselman’s case, the sheriff backs attorney Renee Torpy for the open seat. Musselman alleges Ivey offered to get her appointed as State Attorney or to help get her elected as State Attorney if she dropped out.
Over the last two weeks, County Commission candidate Chris Hattaway and School Board candidate Shawn Overdorf, both current or former police officers and military veterans, made similar allegations.
They claimed Ivey urged them to drop out of their respective races in exchange for a job in Tom Goodson’s office, should he win the seat for County Commission 2.
Like Hattaway and Overdorf, Musselman has a record of public service and work in the criminal justice system that is to be admired.
Maybe this is how politics work. Maybe this is always how it’s been done: the popular and powerful get to decide who runs when and reward those who are subservient.
But isn’t this a little too much power for the sheriff of a mid-sized Florida county? Reading between the lines, if Ivey offered to get Musselman appointed as state attorney then he must know current State Attorney Phil Archer is planning to leave office before his term ends.
“I didn’t believe for a second that he would have me appointed as state attorney. He just wanted me out of the race,” Musselman said. “I think he saw me as a threat” to Torpy.
Ivey has not commented on the allegations and has not responded to calls seeking comment.
We are left to wonder, assuming the three separate allegations are true, (remember the whole smoke and fire adage) what exactly is Ivey getting out of this? If his “chosen” candidates are elected to office, can we expect them to act in the interests of the voters or in the interests of the sheriff?
Will a judge backed by the sheriff feel more pressure to make sure arrests made by the sheriff’s office result in convictions? Will a county commissioner backed by the sheriff be more amenable to spending increases by the sheriff’s office? Why would the sheriff back a school board candidate?
Overdorf, Hattaway and Musselman should be lauded for standing up to the popular and powerful Ivey. It’s been a long time since anyone — other than this newspaper — questioned the sheriff.
“I will stand up for what’s right even if I am standing alone,” Musselman said.
Here’s the thing Kimberly, when you do the right thing, you never walk alone.
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