A state legislature measure would formalize Bob’s hatred of Darren. State Rep. Bob Marshall, D-Highlands Ranch, has a grievance against Republican Douglas County Sheriff Darren Weekly and wants to punish him with revenge legislation that would discriminate against all Colorado sheriffs. Marshall tried to get revenge on the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office by passing HB23-1206.
Sheriffs can support political candidates, however the bill’s first clauses contradict this.
Marshall removes all police enforcement save sheriffs from this grievance legislation, stating that “law enforcement must be handled in an unbiased and apolitical manner” and condemning “even the appearance of partisan participation.” Colorado’s elected attorney general, district attorneys, and coroners are exempt from Marshall’s malicious bill. Marshall doesn’t explain this oddity.
“To serve as a Colorado equivalent of the ‘Hatch Act,’” the measure states, referring to a federal legislation that restricts partisan political activity by federal and local government workers who engage with federally sponsored programs. The Hatch Act covers the sheriff’s office since it administers federal monies. Marshall’s measure exceeds the federal Hatch Act.
Another state overreach. Sheriffs follow county commissioners’ legislation. Marshall’s bill disgraces their decision-making and removes their authority in this area. Municipalities can still regulate police chiefs and other law enforcement employees under the measure. Marshall must think county government is too ignorant or corrupt to administer.
This begrudging measure allows our hyper-partisan Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, to promote a political candidate like Bob Marshall and use his elected status to provide legitimacy, but Sheriff Weekly cannot back Marshall’s Republican opponent using the term “sheriff.”
“An employee of the sheriff’s office must not… use public buildings… under exclusive control of law enforcement that are not frequently open to the general public,” the measure says, prohibiting the sheriff and deputies from utilizing the office. Even their jobs. Period.
“Official position to persuade anybody to change their political opinions”
The bill prohibits only the sheriff from using their “official position to exert any pressure on anyone to influence that person’s political views.” The language is so poorly written that it appears to prohibit sheriffs from testifying before the legislature in uniform to “influence (a legislator’s) political view” on a specific bill. Chiefs of police, state patrol chiefs, the AG, and anybody else are exempt. Sheriffs only.
The measure allows “any individual” to complain about sheriffs. Citizenship, residence, and geography are unrestricted. It’s worse than letting a Boulderite target conservative sheriffs. The DA may accept affidavits from anybody, even Californians, under this stupid measure. The law would remove DAs’ investigative and prosecutorial powers. The DA must prosecute a civil offense if “reasonable grounds” exist. No other law requires such prosecution.
To add insult to injury, the law bizarrely allows the AG “equal ability with the district attorney” to pursue these “violations,” needlessly expanding AG jurisdiction into local government.
Marshall calls sheriffs “employees of the sheriff’s office” to control them. Sheriffs, like Marshall, are elected locally. Despite not being “workers,” the measure sets a maximum penalty of “dismiss(al) from the service of the county sheriff’s office” for any conviction. Who can fire the sheriff, first-year law students ask? Just voters. A supermajority of both chambers of the legislature cannot change that. The nonpartisan Colorado County Sheriffs oppose this measure. Bad policy, not partisanship.
One guy wants to settle with his local sheriff amid rising crime and victimization in Colorado. Marshall should vote, not change the law.