There’s an interesting development in the Cascade County Sheriffs race between Sheriff Bob Edwards and one of his opponents in the June 5 Democratic primary.
It first came to my attention when I saw that someone had shared Edwards’ May 4th ‘Retain Sheriff Edwards’ Facebook post following the KRTV sheriff candidates debate. In the post Sheriff Edwards alleges that sheriff candidate Jesse Slaughter, who was a Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) board member, “knew what they were going to do to me” (POST voted to revoke Edwards police and coroner certificates) and that was Slaughters reason for resigning from the POST board and running for sheriff.
Here is a screenshot of a portion of the post with the pertinent comments highlighted:
Here is the link to the post on the Retain Sheriff Edwards Facebook page –https://www.facebook.com/RetainEdwards/posts/1634213039949939
The post and the implications against Slaughters motives and timing in running for sheriff were widely shared on social media and, reportedly, through email and texts by Edwards supporters. Subsequently Slaughters supporters have fired back and claim that Edwards allegations are unfounded and patently false.
I reached out to Sheriff Edwards and asked him to respond to the counter-claims that Slaughters resignation from POST came before he had knowledge that Edwards certifications would be revoked and had nothing to do with his (Slaughters) decision to run for sheriff.
Edwards responded by sending me an email stating “Attached is the POST agenda for Feb. 7th. The day the said they were going to revoke me.” with a screenshot of the February 7, 2018 POST meeting agenda listing Slaughters resignation letter as agenda item #2.
Subsequently several Slaughter supporters have posted on social media and contacted me directly with documentation directly refuting Edwards implications about the timing and motive behind Slaughters resignation from POST and decision to run for Cascade County Sheriff.
Here is a photo showing Slaughters time-stamped POST resignation letter, dated December 4, 2017.
Here is the text of an email forwarded to me and originally sent to a local citizen from Perry Johnson, Executive Director of POST sent this morning, May 8. I’ve highlighted the portion that appears to directly refute Sheriff Edwards allegation that Slaughter knew about POST actions revoking Edwards certifications and therefore resigned POST to run for sheriff
From: Johnson, Perry <PJohnson@mt.gov>
Date: Tue, May 8, 2018 at 9:51 AM
Subject: RE: Jesse Slaughter resignation
Attached please find a copy of the timeline relating to POST interaction/allegation timeline. I have also attached a copy of Jesse Slaughter’s resignation letter. I also provided information about how POST processes allegations against officers and who on the Council has the information about the allegations made and when the information would be known.
Regarding your question about Jesse’s resignation being on an agenda with Bob Edwards allegations, that didn’t happen. Jesse’s resignation was on a regular POST Council meeting agenda. The resignation was on the agenda in February because Jesse resigned in December and the POST Council did not meet again until February and that was the first opportunity to advise the Council.
Bob Edwards agenda dates and times are noted in the timeline attachment above. No mention of the allegations relating to Bob Edwards was ever placed on an agenda for the full POST Council. The only agenda that would have contained information about Bob would have been for Case Status Committee meetings. The agenda for the Case Status Committee meetings did not contain information about Jesse’s resignation. Jesse was not a member of the Case Status Committee and as such, he would not have had access to any information relating to the Committee, their discussion or their decisions.
I have provided a timeline and extensive information that I hope will address the questions you presented. The timeline clearly demonstrates the efforts POST made to thoroughly investigate and obtain information relating to the allegations relating to Bob Edwards. The dates clearly show POST made no decision pertaining to allegations relating to Bob Edwards prior to Officer Slaughter’s decision to resign from the POST Council. The timeline shows that there was no conspiracy because no action/decision had been made or taken regarding Bob Edwards at the time Jesse resigned. Jesse’s resignation was unexpected and a surprise to me and the other members of the Council.
Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or if we can be of any assistance to you.
Thanks and have a great day!
Perry Johnson, Executive Director
Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council
2260 Sierra Road East
Helena, Montana 59602
(406) 444-9976 Desk
(406) 444-9978 Fax
(406) 475-5524 Cell
Finally here is the timeline that Mr. Johnson attached with the email.
Adding this all up it appears to me that Sheriff Edwards is mistaken in his assertion that Jesse Slaughters timing and motives were based on inside information and were therefore nefarious in some way. Whether Edwards was unintentionally misinformed or intentionally misleading I don’t know. I emailed him and asked for his response or a clarification and have not yet heard back.
I will keep readers updated as this matter develops.