Robert Mercer is a Volunteer Sheriff in Yuma (No, Really)

UPDATE: Blair Miller of Denver7 catches up with Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day and asks for some clarifications that never come:

In an interview Monday, Day didn’t deny using the LEEF grants or having a volunteer program like the “sheriff’s posse.” But on multiple occasions, he declined to say who worked as volunteers, though he denied having any sort of tit-for-tat arrangement with Mercer or LEEF.

“To be clear, there certainly is no quid pro quo arrangement,” Day told Denver7.

He said a friend of his told him about the LEEF grants, and that he’d applied and been awarded several of the projects he’d applied for. An archived LEEF website notes that its mission is to “help law enforcement officers and agencies in training, equipment, matching funds and family line-of-duty funds grant.”

“They certainly weren’t some sort of trade for volunteer work,” Day said. “[The writer’s] assertion was that I was granting [LEOSA] status in exchange for those things…that’s not true.”

Miller had less luck hearing back from the attorney for the Yuma County Sheriff’s office…

Lees did not respond to a phone message left Monday requesting further clarification the statements attributed to him by Bloomberg.

…or from Mercer:

A spokesperson at Renaissance Technologies, where Mercer is still employed, declined to comment Monday. An email to Mercer requesting comment was not returned. Requests for comment made to the LEEF also went unreturned Monday.

Sheriff day was adamant to Blair that Mercer would or did not receive any “special treatment.”

Oh, and guess who else didn’t have a comment?

Yuma is also home to Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner, whose spokesman said he didn’t know anything about the story aside from what he’d read in Bloomberg. [Pols emphasis]


Billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer is apparently a volunteer sheriff’s deputy in Yuma County, Colorado — largely so he can legally carry a gun wherever he goes.

Bloomberg News has a story today about a new “sheriff” in town by the name of Robert Mercer (yes, the very same):

For most of the past six years, Mercer was a volunteer policeman in the tiny town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, an arrangement that allowed him to carry a concealed weapon in any U.S. state under a law that applies only to law-enforcement officers. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported last month, Mercer gave up his New Mexico badge for undisclosed reasons in September. The mayor of Lake Arthur shut the volunteer program last week.

But the 71-year-old financier is still in the law-enforcement game. Last week, a lawyer for the office of Sheriff Chad Day of Yuma County, Colorado, confirmed that Mercer is a volunteer member of the agency. [Pols emphasis]

“From time to time, he serves in certain roles as designated by the sheriff,” said the lawyer, Robert Lees, who also helped set up the sheriff’s volunteer posse. Yuma is a rural county with a population of about 10,000 that borders Nebraska and Kansas.

You really need to read this entire story for yourself. There are a lot of unanswered questions here that will almost certainly be fodder for future news stories (Vanity Fair has already picked up on the Bloomberg story).

Cory Gardner with Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Mercer is the hedge-fund billionaire who spent a great deal of money helping to elect Donald Trump, after his initial crush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, fizzled out. Mercer is thought to be the single-biggest individual donor in the 2016 election cycle, and his money has funded a variety of right-wing interests from Breitbart News to Cambridge Analytica to whatever weird crap Steve Bannon was concocting.

In 2016, Mercer’s foundation bought a brand-new Dodge Ram 1500 Limited pickup truck for the Yuma County Sheriff’s “official use.” Mercer’s “Law Enforcement Education Foundation” has also donated $20,000 worth of tasers to Yuma County, and Yuma Sheriff Chad Day says that he is hopeful that they will receive a grant to buy a bunch of new handguns.

In exchange for this generosity, Yuma County rounded up itself a posse:

Lees confirmed that two Mercer associates, George Wells and Peter Pukish, had also joined the sheriff’s office. Both men had previously volunteered alongside Mercer in New Mexico. Wells is Mercer’s son-in-law, and Pukish is a family friend and longtime employee. Both are officers of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation. Wells and Pukish didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“In addition to whatever donations they made, these people bring certain qualifications to the table,” Lees said of the three men.

The Yuma County posse has about two dozen members, Day said, of whom seven or eight live outside the county. [Pols emphasis] He said some but not all posse members qualify for privileges under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, the 2004 federal law that allows officers to carry concealed weapons nationwide.

Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day

The Yuma County Sheriff’s office only has about seven 21 employees in total, though the city of Yuma has its own police department. According to Bloomberg, Mercer was connected to Day via Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown. Reporters Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux apparently didn’t realize — or declined to mention — that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner just so happens to be from…Yuma, Colorado. It’s no secret that Gardner has been having a hell of a time raising money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); it’s probably a good guess that this little arrangement helps open Mercer’s checkbook. Or, maybe this is all just a really weird coincidence.

This is a pretty incredible tale, and here’s the cherry on top:

Sheriff Day rejected a Bloomberg News request this month under Colorado’s public-records law for documents relating to Mercer and his associates, including information on their qualifications and duties. He said disclosing the names of volunteers could endanger their safety.

“Some of my volunteer resources are directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in my area,” Day wrote in an earlier email. “It would not be safe tactically or personally to identify individuals who serve in association with those types of cases.” [Pols emphasis]

According to the sheriff of Yuma County, billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer is a key cog in confidential undercover operations involving the Mexican Cartel, and that’s why he gets to carry a concealed weapon wherever he goes.

Sure thing.

20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    Your story is datelined: April 16, 2018 at 12:14 PM MDT. Pity you couldn't have gotten it up just a bit sooner, and made it come out at "High Noon."

    Looking forward to hearing the details of Mercer's 6 days of service in a year to match the Federal standard and qualify for the carry permit.

    Meanwhile, I wonder if Mr. Mercer recognizes that a sheriff's help, a badge and a gun do not always have happy endings. See an outcome from Oklahoma for one possibility. Tulsa Reserve Deputy Robert Bates Gets 4 Years in Unarmed Man's Fatal Shooting

  2. Mike W. says:

    One of the first things I recall learning about in my criminal justice courses were concerned with corruption. I'd say a lot of officers are forgetting their education, but I see more patrolling on my way home than they have on in their entire department. A handful would be an overstatement. 

  3. flatiron says:

    So when I am 85, I can be a cop in Yuma if I just buy the sheriff a $64,000 pickup? No, that's not corrupt or anything. 

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Mr. Mercer is obviously a vital "71-year-old financier [who] is still in the law-enforcement game." Who knows if he'll still be a cop in another decade?

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        My guess is that the Mexican cartels never knew the 71-year old billionaire was an undercover Narc?  And now his cover is totally blown!   How’s Yuma ever supposed to get its severe trafficking problems under control now?

        I can’t wait until they make a movie about Mercer’s stellar career here in Yuma County.  Think about it, Colorado, our very own Serpico!  

        If Mercer can clean up Yuma County, maybe someone can talk Phil Anschutz into finally going after the gangs in Kiowa or San Juan counties!??


        • MichaelBowman says:

          Looking at that picture of Barney made me wonder: what if Moddy is one of Yuma County's (non-resident) finest (undercover) alpha-Mexican-cartel fighters (sans the fancy pick-up truck)? He has close ties to the 'people-who-know-people' in this breaking story.  

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            Organized crime always finds a home wherever those sworn to uphold the law allow themselves to be bought.  

            Yuma is one of the few towns in Colorado that I’ve never visited.  I would not have guessed it was a hotbed of cartel vice and control. 

            My guess is that it wasn’t always this bad and would not have gotten so awful except for this corrupt Sheriff Day and his inept and inadequate band of geriatric law enforcers. (I can now see why Senator Gardner prefers the relative peace and  safety of Washington DC.) . . . 

            . . . As for Fluffy, why not Yuma?  The town could probably use another village idiot to fill in when Gardner is frequently away.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        This is no small thing: Sheriff Day is the President of CSOC . You'll notice that nice new pickup truck compliment of Posse Mercer in the banner area of the website.

        Sheriff Day’s representation on the association of Sheriffs in the state allows Yuma County to have an influence and impact on the direction of law enforcement locally and on a broader reach…

  4. mamajama55 says:

    Hoo boy. Another bazillionaire East Coast trust fund baby born again as a John Wayne  or Clint Eastwood wannabe.  Mercer joins George W Bush, Ken Buck, and so many more in a bizarre attempt to reinvent himself as a gun-slingin' shit-kickin' outlaw maverick.

    He thinks that he is the "well-regulated militia" the second Amendment speaks of. Except that he isn't regulated at all, in spite of Day's and Lees' glib reassurances.

    What terrifies me about  these people is that they clearly have the cooperation of the local police force. How likely is it that some immigrant guilty of a minor traffic violation will be "disappeared" into a detention center, there to rot while their family struggles without them? Or worse? If the police reserve "volunteers" abuse their power, how would we ever know?

    These people have fantasies of battling ISIS terrorists on the plains of northeastern Colorado. Lacking ISIS terrorists, they'll settle for beating up brown people, or incarcerating oil and gas protesters for speaking up. ADAPT protesters went to Cory Gardner's home on New Year's eve. What might an overzealous volunteer reserve officer made of the chance to arrest and rough up some annoying protesters at a respected Senator's home?

    They truly believe Trump's lies, and repeat them endlessly. The women and kids fleeing Honduras gang-bangers are threatening caravans of cartelistas that must be met with National Guard's military power at the border. The youths handcuffing themselves to bulldozers to interfere with oil and gas development are ISIS terrorists who must be silenced and ruined financially.

    Mercer fancies himself to be "a good guy with a gun". Who has he cast in the role of the bad guy? How would we know?

  5. MADCO says:

    Someone should tell Don Maes.  Was this like his undercover gig in Kansas?

  6. doremi says:

    In the last year or two, Sheriff Day testified for the repeal of of the High Capacity Magazine Ban and stated that people needed their high capacity magazines to fight off their government.   Strange….he is the government.

  7. There is no angle from which Mercer's badge-collecting scheme looks good. Here's to hoping the CSOC does something about it.

    • Davie says:

      Mercer, his son-in-law, and employee appear to be an example of well-connected rich guys who wish to carry due to their own paranoid dystopic fantasies. They probably haven’t even stepped foot in Yuma County other than to hand over the keys to the truck and shake hands with the entire 7 person department. 

      Fortunately for them, there are always RWNJ law enforcement departments easily plied with expensive gifts who gladly return the favor and conveniently provide cover for their abuse of privileges for which they do not deserve.

  8. Davie says:

    But it's not entirely without precedent:

    Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley

    Elvis was traveling with some guns and his collection of police badges, and he decided that what he really wanted was a badge from the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs back in Washington. “The narc badge represented some kind of ultimate power to him,” Priscilla Presley would write in her memoir, Elvis and Me. “With the federal narcotics badge, he [believed he] could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.”

    “I’m on your side,” Elvis told Nixon, adding that he’d been studying the drug culture and Communist brainwashing. Then he asked the president for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

    “Can we get him a badge?” Nixon asked Krogh.

    Krogh said he could, and Nixon ordered it done.

  9. mamajama55 says:

    Wonder where Depitty Mercer was when this bozo went on a rampage about an hour and a half away, using a semi as a weapon, and terrorizing two towns.

    Oh that's right. Terrorists have to be brown. They're never tweaky white guys.

    UPDATE: So the tweaky terrorist in the stolen semi was stopped by one young cop who hopped out of his car and fired at the mofo. No tank, even though we now have a big-ass tank parked at the post office. Probably the tank is too damn slow and takes too much gas.

    Anyway, for the record, I am glad for the police use of deadly force in this case. The perp fled the truck, went into someone’s house where he was subdued and captured. No super-weapons required, just grit and bravery.

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