I see little hope for harmony in the upcoming Session of the General Assembly if we can’t at least agree that it’s valid to ask if someone who is under indictment for 32 felony counts involving abuse of his former elected law enforcement office should be able to retake that office while the charges are still pending.
The state’s sheriffs want Gov. Nathan Deal to start the process that could lead to Victor Hill’s suspension moments after he takes office as Clayton County sheriff in little more than a month. But several legislators from Clayton say that request is premature and they want time for Hill to resolve the 32 felony charges against him.
Hill is to retake the office he lost in the 2008 election on Jan. 1. “We won’t take any official action until he is sworn,” Deal spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield said in an email.
According to Georgia law concerning indicted elected officials, the governor is to name a committee — in this case two sheriffs and the attorney general — to recommend if Hill should be suspended while his case is pending.
Hill is charged with racketeering, using his county-owned cars and credit cards for personal trips and requiring member of his staff to work on his failed 2008 re-election campaign while they were supposed to be at their jobs.
Soon after he was indicted in January, Hill lost his state law enforcement certification, which means he cannot make arrests or serve warrants.
Still, Hill defeated incumbent Sheriff Kem Kimbrough in a Democratic primary runoff in August and won again in November with almost 64,000 votes against nearly 17,000 for write-in candidate Garland Watkins, the current chief deputy under Kembrough.
To remove Hill is “totally disrespectful to the voters of Clayton County,” said Sen. Valencia Seay, D-Riverdale. “Allow the judicial system to do what they do.”
Rep. Darryl Jordan, D-Riverdale, has drafted a letter asking the governor to leave Hill alone until the criminal case is resolved with a trial.
“It seems to me, governor, that when certain people can’t get their wishes at the voting booths, then they employ raw, unmitigated, egregious and flagrant attacks on the Voting Rights Act,” he wrote. “This is unconscionable. The people of Clayton County are tired of this shabby and condescending treatment from people who don’t even live here.”
With all due respect, Rep. Darryl Jordan is an idiot if he thinks this is a Voting Rights case.
Hill, you’ll recall, faces a couple dozen felony indictments for alleged misbehavior during his first stint as sheriff, which ended when voters booted him in 2008. Hill revived his law enforcement career by beating incumbent Kem Kimbrough in the Democratic primary this summer, and defeated a write-in candidate this month.
Once Hill takes his oath of office in January, Gov. Nathan Deal has the option of suspending Hill until his legal issues are resolved. The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association last week recommended the governor take that route, and even suggested a replacement.
[S]tate Sen. Valencia Seay, D-Riverdale. “I was appalled and taken aback when I heard the sheriff’s association giving a recommendation for a replacement of our sheriff-elect,” she said. “The voters were crystal clear when they elected [the] sheriff-elect. They were crystal clear when they rejected the former sheriff.”
Seay said the sheriff’s association had acted “prematurely,” and in “total disrespect to the voters in Clayton County.”