Sheriff Jenkins Accused of Using County Resources in Political Campaign

Formal complaint submitted to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel

A review of e-mail correspondence between Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and several Sheriff’s Office employees as well as others outside his office reveals that he has repeatedly used his county-provided e-mail account, his employees and other county resources to conduct his political campaign for re-election.

Voluminous e-mail correspondence, copies of which were obtained by Frederick attorney Jason W. Shoemaker, show that Sheriff Jenkins has many times violated the Hatch Act, a federal law against using government resources for partisan political campaigns. Because the Sheriff’s Office receives federal funds, the sheriff is bound by the Hatch Act.

chuckjenkins500w

Shoemaker, acting with Boyce Rensberger, co-founder of a Facebook group called Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement, on Thursday jointly filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the federal agency that investigates allegations of Hatch Act violations. The complaint includes several hundred pages of copies of e-mails sent and received by the sheriff, members of his government staff and others.

Shoemaker obtained the e-mails as a result of filing a Public Information Act request after the Frederick News-Post broke a story on August 31, 2014, detailing comments made by Sheriff Jenkins about his election opponents using his official Sheriff’s Office e-mail account.

By law, incumbent candidates must keep all communications and information related to their campaigns for re-election completely separate from their government-provided accounts and offices. They also cannot conduct campaign-related business during their work hours nor use county staff work hours for campaign-related tasks or activities. The e-mails themselves violate the Hatch Act even as they reveal that the sheriff is working on his campaign during his regular work day, amounting to further violations.

Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement, a nonpartisan group in Frederick County, is cooperating with Shoemaker, a Republican, in filing the complaint and in informing citizens of the behavior of Sheriff Jenkins. CPLE is an informal Facebook group of more than 300 Frederick County citizens who meet online to share information and discuss common goals of bringing truly professional policing to Frederick County.

“Sheriff Jenkins is a lawman who has repeatedly placed himself above the law,” Rensberger said, citing the sheriff’s assertion in a Frederick News-Post debate that it is his duty to protect citizens from government.

“I really believe,” he said in his closing remarks at that Oct. 14 debate, “that the sheriff, the office of the sheriff is the last line between government and the American citizen. And when the government fails — and it is failing — that obligation to protect falls to the sheriff.”

Although the sheriff once took an oath to uphold the Constitution, he now says it is his duty to stand against the government established under the Constitution. That, Rensberger said, shows the same disregard for law as does his use of county resources—both employees and electronic resources—to wage his campaign for re-election.

lawenforcementcenter500w


This news release, written by Boyce Rensberger, was sent to local news media.