Will Jackson get the support of his troops?
If Prince George's County Sheriff Michael A. Jackson wants a strong start to his campaign for county executive, one key component will be grabbing an endorsement that's close to home: that of the deputy sheriff's union.
But the nod of approval is not in the bag, according to union officials.
The head of the union said his organization will interview up to nine potential county executive candidates later this month before the group votes early in January on who to endorse, and the head of the state's police union said flat-out that Jackson will not get the local endorsement.
"Mike Jackson will not get the union endorsement," said John "Rodney" Bartlett, president of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, referring to the deputy sheriff's union endorsement. "I can almost take that to the bank. And I will do everything in my power to make sure he doesn't get it, either."
That's because, Bartlett said, tensions have arisen between Jackson and the deputy sheriff's union over how allegations of misappropriated union funds were handled recently.
When a recent independent audit turned up evidence that a past deputy sheriff's union president had misappropriated more than $7,000 of union money, current president Robert A. Cease approached Jackson about it, Bartlett said. Jackson told Cease he would look into the matter, but then brought Cease up on administrative charges for defaming a fellow member of the department, Bartlett said.
The allegations over the funds are being investigated by the state's attorney's office, said Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.
Cease declined to comment on the matter on the advice of his lawyer.
Jackson called the flap a "union issue" and declined to comment on any action taken against Cease, saying, "I don't discuss personnel matters."
But, Jackson added, the union funds issue is "on our radar screen," and he said he would take appropriate action if criminal wrongdoing was discovered.
Jackson's handling of the matter drew strong fire from Bartlett, who accused him of going after a whistle-blower.
"It's ludicrous," Bartlett said.
Despite Bartlett's stated opposition, Jackson is hopeful.
"I expect to get [the union's endorsement], but I don't take anything lightly, or anything for granted. I think we've proven over the last seven years, and they've seen my leadership and my managerial skills. ... We're confident, but not overconfident."
Cease said his union will interview candidates Dec. 30, with members on hand to ask questions.
He said giving each candidate a look is the fair thing to do.
"It's the American way," Cease said. "That's how we do things."
Photo credit: Prince George's County
December 17, 2009; 12:55 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County
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