(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Sheriff Terry Maketa is in trouble. Accused of sexual harassment and misusing his department's funds, he is now facing an energetic effort to recall him from his elected office. Volunteers must gather 45,000 valid signatures by July 12, in order to initiate a recall election. Many of his staff have resigned or are on leave; computer hard drives at his office have been taken for investigation. The FBI will investigate his finances, and his undersheriff and former campaign manager have not only signed the recall petition , but they are helping to gather signatures to recall the "Shirtless Sheriff". Several former colleagues are suing the Sheriff's Department for sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and/or creating a hostile work environment. The Board of County Commissioners has met with him twice, urging him to resign. Even usually-reliable right wing radio hosts are backing away. In a rambling video obtained by the Gazette, Maketa apologized, but refused to step down.
El Paso County citizens are justifiably angry with their Sheriff. Yet, there are even more reasons for El Paso voters to recall Terry Maketa.
He is one of an extreme right-wing group called the "Constitutional Sheriffs". The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) defended racist rancher Cliven Bundy at the showdown in Nevada recently.
The philosophy of CSPOA is that the county Sheriff is a higher authority than Federal or State government. This philosophy, known as "Posse Comitatus" was used in the South to defend segregation and to suppress the civil right movement, so it is historically tied to racists, and currently advocating the formation of anti-government militias, to be led by these "constitutional sheriffs". The Southern Poverty Law Center considers CSPOA to be a dangerous "extremist patriot" group because of its anti-government activism. Sheriffs who refuse to be "Constitutional Sheriffs" are put on a "red-coat" list, and are subject to threats and harassment.
CSPOA's mission is to refuse to enforce laws that they believe are unconstitutional – usually gun control laws. “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists,” according to CSPOA's leader, Sheriff Mack. “It is our own federal government.” A social media group created by Keith Broadus promoted Maketa as a member of the Constitutional Sheriffs in 2013. CSPOA is associated with the "Oathkeepers", a known hate group. Both groups mentored the young couple who later gunned down police officers at a Walmart in Nevada.
Maketa has been proud to associate with this group. During the heat of the recall elections last summer, Terry Maketa was an NRA darling, happy to be one of the faces of the group of sheriffs who sued the state of Colorado to overturn gun laws. He claimed to be drawing a "line in the sand" to defend the second Amendment, and is still listed on the websites of the "Constitutional Sheriffs".
Fundraising for Maketa, then and now:
When Maketa was still a face of the recalls and resistance to gun laws in Colorado, other far-right organizations used his name to raise funds for their own purposes. In 2013, the Legacy Foundation raised funds for Maketa, and apparently, they still are. Legacy Foundation itself follows the Dudley Brown model of lucrative fund raising from paranoid members, but disburses very few funds for projects or activity. It also has engaged in misleading voter mailings in Ohio. Legacy Foundation made 6 million in 2012, had one salaried employee, its CEO,( a Mr. Rants- really), Legacy raised 2.5 million from direct mail appeals, but only disbursed about 800,000, mostly to known "hate groups" such as the anti-gay American Family Association.
Legacy also supported a mostly imaginary group known as the Border Sheriffs – whose mission, like the constitutional sheriffs, was to supersede federal authority in dealing with immigrants on the southern borders of the United States. The Border Sheriffs filed an unsuccessful amicus brief with the Supreme Court, and have since been disbanded. However, Legacy still raises funds using the "Border Sheriff" name.
So, to recap: the Sheriff who is facing accusations and lawsuits for sexual harassment, improper use of department funds, favoritism and creating a hostile work environment, who has been asked to resign (and refused) twice, , whose community is bustling with volunteers trying to recall him from his position, that Sheriff, is also a member of a recognized "extremist patriot group" with deep roots in the Segregationist south, and which is most recently known for confronting Federal marshalls in a planned "revolution", and whose ideology influenced two young cop-killers in Nevada.
If Maketa were a Democrat, he would already be gone. Every right wing blog and radio pundit would be calling for his head, and holding him up as an example of "failed moral values".
I don't know if the recall effort against Maketa will be successful. He may actually serve out his term. The Constitutional Sheriffs will have a place for him on the front lines of their imaginary war with the US government. Maketa has another claim to fame – he is on DIG's list of the ten worst politicians in the country, in the "Horn Dog" category. And his legacy, the image America will hold in its mind forever will not be the valiant lawman challenging the liberal gun laws – but the frightened man, hiding from the press, the incompetent public servant defying the commissioners calling for his resignation, and the mostly naked and leering sheriff, sexting from his shower.