Mar 252015
 

By Linda Kor

State Senator Sylvia Allen, a Snowflake Republican, is catching backlash for a bill she introduced to the Senate that is currently under consideration in the House. Senate Bill 1467 is aimed at providing law enforcement officers with more due process during administrative investigations, but the perceived motive behind the bill has the senator under public scrutiny.

In its original form the bill sought to eliminate the polygraph as part of administrative discipline for law enforcement officers. While that was struck from the bill early on, one of the remaining highlights of the bill would allow an employee 14 days to review the investigative file and submit a reply or rebuttal before any discipline is ordered. The current time frame is three days.

The timing of the bill has not gone unnoticed, as it follows the resignation of Allen’s son-in-law, Tim Hunt, amidst allegations of sexual conduct involving an inmate at the Navajo County Jail where Hunt was employed.

In 2014 Hunt was investigated for allegations that he traded cigarettes to a female inmate in exchange for oral sex. It was also alleged that he made inappropriate comments and sexual gestures to other female inmates. Hunt denied the allegations although testimony from six other inmates substantiated the claims. Hunt was subjected to a polygraph test by an outside agency which determined that he provided a “deceptive response” when asked if he had engaged in oral sex with an inmate at the jail.

For her part, Allen was open about her family’s circumstance when she initially presented the bill. “I just did not know what to do to help,” she told the Senate Public Safety, Military and Technology Committee after reading a letter from her daughter about the family’s ordeal, according to a Feb. 18 recording of the proceedings available on the legislature’s website. “There was no way to help. It was hard watching.”

Navajo County Sheriff KC Clark believes the bill is more self-serving than having a concern for due process. The sheriff also believes that Allen has abused the power of her office both as a senator and when she served as a Navajo County supervisor on more than one occasion.

“Senator Allen has repeatedly sought favor due to her position. She has interfered in investigations. She requested to have her personal road graded despite budget cuts and repeatedly approached me seeking employment for family members in the sheriff’s office,” stated Clark.

Allen had emailed Clark while her son-in-law was under investigation stating that she had realized that one of the responsibilities as supervisor is protecting county liability and that in researching her son-in-law’s case, she found documents to be missing from the county’s electronic record keeping system. She wrote to Clark that she had the information technology personnel investigating the issue. “Either there is a glitch in the system, someone has hacked the system, or someone accidently or purposely deleted documents,” she wrote.

According to Clark, personnel found that there had been no records missing and no evidence of any mishandling. “In all the years that we’ve had this system in place there has never been one document reported missing and there wasn’t any missing this time,” he stated.

Allen sent another email to Clark after Hunt was assigned to desk work at the jail to ensure that he had no further contact with the female inmates while the accusations against him were being investigated. In the email she wrote, “I need to talk to you about what is going on in the jail. The commander put up a note in the control room telling everyone that Tim Hunt was not allowed into the jail. This was before he got to work. Then they made him sit out front all day not telling him why he was being investigated. He was humiliated and no one said why.”

Clark also said that following Hunt’s resignation, staff members at the jail began receiving offensive texts sent by a disposable cell phone. While the person sending the texts has not been identified, Clark noted that an investigation has revealed that the phone used was purchased online and had been sent to Allen’s campaign office in Snowflake.

“I think she needs to go before an ethics committee,” stated Clark of Allen. “This is blatant, self-serving abuse of power by an elected official.”

It would appear that Allen is just as unhappy with Clark. She recently recruited Richard Mack, a former Graham County sheriff known as a “constitutionalist,” to move to Navajo County in order to run for sheriff in 2016. Mack has stated that if elected, he would operate under constitutional law and encouraged other constitutionalists to move to Navajo County to support the movement. Mack came under scrutiny of his own during the standoff at Clive Bundy’s ranch last year when during a televised newscast Mack stated that he had planned to use women as shields, should what he called “rogue” federal officers begin shooting, so that it could be seen all over the world.

Regarding the bill proposed by Allen, Clark is very much opposed for other reasons. “The bill would allow individuals who have already gone through an administrative discipline process and found deceptive on a polygraph to have two weeks to respond instead of three days. That’s 14 days that taxpayers will continue to pay for this person to be on the job. This has nothing to do with assisting the people of our state. It has everything to do with Sylvia Allen’s family,” he said.

Hunt reportedly moved on from his job at Navajo County to a short-lived position with Graham County.

Allen’s office was contacted requesting to speak with the senator, but as of press time, no return call had been received.