Article: Colorado sheriff under FBI investigation

Article: Colorado sheriff under FBI investigation

Originally published by Firebrand Progressives

 

Conservatives feel at home in Colorado Springs, a sprawling city nestled against the towering Rocky Mountains in roughly the middle of Colorado.

Colorado Springs is home to Focus on the Family, Compassion International, and the 14,000-plus member New Life Church (founded by the now disgraced Ted Haggard), and historically, right wing political candidates have fared well there. In 2008, John McCain won the county by almost 60 percent, and in 2012, Mitt Romney enjoyed a slightly higher margin of victory. Colorado Springs and all of El Paso County are also represented in Congress by Republican Doug Lamborn, who once said that working with President Obama was like “touching a tar baby.” Most of Colorado Springs’ other elected officials are also conservatives—its mayor, the entire city council and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

First elected in 2002, Maketa performed his duties for twelve years while largely avoiding the limelight, until recently. During the 2013 Black Forest Fire, the most destructive fire in Colorado history, Maketa was seen by many as a strong leader, rallying the community and coordinating federal aid. However, once the flames were extinguished, Maketa began assailing Black Forest’s fire chief, publicly accusing him of mismanaging the firefighting effort.

The battle thrust Maketa further into the media spotlight, and when Colorado lawmakers moved to tighten the state’s gun laws—making background checks mandatory on all gun sales and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds—Maketa spearheaded a federal lawsuit against the state.

Banding together with sheriffs from 54 of the state’s 64 counties, Maketa took a very public stand against the proposed legislation. Speaking on behalf of the 54 sheriffs, Maketa told reporters, “We each took an oath. The line in the sand has been drawn, and we will stand united.”

The move made Maketa more popular with many conservative constituents, and with a term-limit approaching, which would force an end to his career as sheriff, political pundits began speculating Maketa might be planning to run for a different elected office.

However, Maketa’s future political aspirations may now be on hold. On Friday, Dave Philipps, a reporter with The Gazette, reported that sources within the sheriff’s office alleged Maketa had been having sexual relationships with three female subordinates and that all three had been promoted to top jobs. Other allegations attest Maketa had traveled with the women many times, and that he paid for the trips with public funds.

The allegations were made in a seven-page complaint by three of Maketa’s co-workers, and The Gazette also obtained hundreds of text messages sent by Maketa to one of the women in question. One such message, a selfie of a shirtless Maketa, was sent with the caption, “Wish you were with me.”

On Saturday, county commissioners confirmed they are investigating the claims and said the FBI is looking into possible financial misconduct as well. An FBI agent also contacted The Gazette to obtain financial documents.

When asked about the allegations by various media outlets, Maketa refused to be interviewed. However, he later devoted an entire page of the official El Paso County Sheriff’s Office website to address Philipps’ reporting, saying, “Dave Philipps again demonstrates his lack of journalistic integrity and inability to serve the readers of our community by leaving out pertinent facts in his article.”

Philipps responded by tweeting, “The sheriff devoted much of the sheriff office web page to questioning my integrity. Whoops.”