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ACLU Blasts Sheriff’s Probe

Says AG investigation falls short on protecting civil rights

Michael Leighton | 5/11/2016, 9:16 a.m.
An investigation that cleared Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton of criminal wrongdoing failed to account for actions that may have ...
Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton

An investigation that cleared Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton of criminal wrongdoing failed to account for actions that may have violated civil protections, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

David Rogers, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, said the Oregon Attorney General Department of Justice’s conclusions, released last week, only represent part of the picture.

“The DOJ’s findings strongly suggest to us that Sheriff Staton violated civil law that protects Oregonians from state surveillance as well as free speech and association rights,” Rogers said.

The investigation looked into several allegations, including that Staton may have improperly tried to dissuade the head of the Multnomah County Deputy Sheriffs Association from taking a no-confidence vote on him, and allegations that he gathered information in a search on the Internet about members of a county charter review commission that was considering a recommendation that the sheriff’s position become appointed, rather than elected.

“In a free county, people shouldn’t have to be afraid that law enforcement will investigate them simply because they are politically engaged,” Rogers said. “Sheriff Staton unquestionably broke the public’s trust and very likely the law, when he gathered information on the charter review committee members, with absolutely no suspicion of any criminal wrongdoing.”

“This is yet another example of top Oregon law enforcement surveilling innocent people,” Rogers said. “We call on the attorney general to make it clear that law enforcement is not allowed to track, monitor or compile information about the political activities and associations of Oregonians who are not suspected of criminal activity.”

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury also indicated that she too was disappointed in the thoroughness of the DOJ report, and the Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff’s group on Monday issued a vote of no confidence against the sheriff.