Napier Questions Nanos’s Double Standard In Pima County Sheriff’s Office Discipline

Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos [Photo from Youtube]

In March, KVOA News reported on the misuse of County resources by a Pima County Sheriff staff against Republican Sheriff’s candidate Mark Napier. At the time, appointed Sheriff Chris Nanos vowed to take the matter to “the County Attorney’s office, and let them review it.”

Since that time, if a review was conducted by Nanos’s good friend and political ally Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, the findings were not made public. Worse yet, Nanos has doubled down on political retribution by forcing another Republican candidate, Terry Staten, to take an unpaid leave of absence from the force.

Napier appeared on the James T. Harris show on KQTH to discuss the details of the initial complaint. According to Napier, and KVOA’s investigation, Lieutenant Terry Parish sent an email from his County funded phone to hundreds of Department members claiming that Napier was a “bully.” The KVOA report notes that “Parish’s email stems from a disagreement he had with Napier 20 years ago, when he was a recruit in Napier’s training class.” On that limited experience, Parish concluded that Napier “abused power” and should have “no credibility.”

Listen to the interview here

While Parish’s judgment appears to lack credibility, it is the credibility of Nanos that is in question. Just last week, the ADI reported that both Nanos and LaWall have used considerable County resources this year to promote themselves and may have used RICO monies inappropriately.

Last week, Napier appeared on the popular James T. Harris radio show to discuss Nanos’s dealings and retaliatory actions towards Napier and others who bring into question his use of funds or County resources.

“On March 4th I had not even declared my candidacy for Pima County Sheriff. I am just an individual citizen out doing the work of the Lord and the things that I do,” Napier told Harris. “I had said clearly that I was interested in running. At the time one of the commanders at the Sheriff’s Department sent out a hit piece on me using the County’s email server and his County issued cell phone.”

Napier explained that the deputy’s actions violated ARS 11-410. “It is not unclear, the statute is very clear that you cannot use county resources to impact a county election,” stated Napier. “I found out about this by being contacted by KVOA News because they were doing an investigative report on it. They ran this report on March 14th. Now we are three months down the road my friend. Nanos at the time said he was not embarrassed by this. He thought it was benign.”

According to Napier he met with Nanos on the 29th of March, and Nanos told him that the matter was going to be taken seriously. Napier said in a press release sent out Sunday that Nanos informed him “that the email matter would be turned over to the State Attorney General for investigation. This would be the correct course of action. The County Attorney would rightly recluse herself due to a conflict of interest. It seemed little investigation would be required however, as the violation of law had been conceded. We again believed that Mr. Nanos would do the right thing.”

It appears that Nanos failed to “do the right thing,” and the only responsive action take came in the form of an email dated May 31 by PCSD Chief Woolridge informing all department members that the Pima County Information Technology Department (ITD) recently concluded an investigation into the use of email and reminded members to follow department policy and the law.

According to Napier’s press release, “This is apparently an effort to bring to a close the violation of the law involving email use committed on March 4. The Pima County ITD should not be investigating violations of the law that involve elections and the misuse of County resources. Further, a simple email reminder is entirely inadequate to address a violation of the law that has specific sanctions.”

Napier cites ARS 11-410(f): “For each violation of this section, the court may impose a civil penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars plus any amount of misused funds subtracted from the county budget against a person who knowingly violates or aids another person in violating this section. The person determined to be out of compliance with this section is responsible for the payment of all penalties and misused funds. County funds or insurance payments shall not be used to pay these penalties or misused funds. All misused funds collected pursuant to this section shall be returned to the county whose funds were misused.”

Parish admitted to this violation of law, but suffered no legal consequences.

Parish has remained at his post; earning his full pay, a convenience, Napier says, that Terry Staten was denied.

In his interview with Harris, Napier made it clear that what happened to Staten was unjustified and completely wrong as his violation was only alleged. He had not been found guilty after being afforded due process. Instead, he was quickly and summarily suspended as soon as the allegations arose. Allegations made by Nanos.

“We need to remember that on May 17, 2016 a PCSD Sergeant announced his candidacy for Sheriff. On May 20, 2016, he was suspended without pay for an alleged policy violation. This after Mr. Nanos accepted the recommendation of County Administrator, Chuck Huckleberry,” reads Napier’s Sunday statement. “It took three days to suspended without pay, without due process, a political rival for an alleged policy violation. Three months after a commander admits to both a violation of State Law and County Policy aimed at a political rival, he remains on the job collecting a salary of more than $100,000/year with no consequence. Further, all indications are that the Appointed Sheriff has made no effort to properly investigate this incident or apply the sanctions proscribed by state statute. This appears to be a clear abuse of power and a failure to enforce the law.”

Napier called out Nanos in his interview, challenging him to make amends and do the right thing by Staten and the county to show he still has respect for the office of the sheriff. “I know it sounds simplistic but the first step I would do is follow the law. Follow my oath of office which is to uphold the law, protect the constitution and do the right thing for the citizens of the Pima County. That is so clearly not being done and if I’m wrong, I know Sheriff Nanos and his surrogates listen to this show all the time. If I am wrong Sheriff Nanos, come on the James T program and explain why I am incorrect. Explain and show the conveyance where you ask the Attorney General of Arizona to investigate this and where you follow the edicts of ARS 11-410. If you can’t do that you shouldn’t be going around taking selfies at every public event. It is a disgrace to the Office and I think the people of Pima County have had enough.”

“I am a reasonable guy,” Napier told Harris. “I very seldom get upset about anything. But this is the office of the sheriff. This isn’t about Mark Napier or Terry Staten or anything else. This is about right and wrong and what people should expect out of that office.”

Not only did Napier call on Nanos to appear on Harris’ show, he issued requests on Sunday:

We request the following:

  • Mr. Nanos provide evidence that the issue involving the March 4 email is being appropriately investigated.
  • Mr. Nanos apply PCSD policies without bias. If a political rival sergeant may be suspended without pay for an alleged policy violation, then a commander should receive a similar sanction for an admitted violation of the law aimed at a political rival.
  • If Mr. Nanos fails to suspend the commander without pay, he should in the interest of fairness and equitable application of the rules, immediately reinstate the sergeant with back pay.
About David Ahumada 164 Articles
David studied journalism at Northern Arizona University. After graduation he began writing for the Arizona Daily Independent.