EUREKA – Lincoln County officials have rejected an effort to recall the county sheriff; but petitioners say they’ll try again.
A Eureka group submitted a petition last month to remove Sheriff Daryl Anderson. It accused him of failing to investigate alleged rapes, failing to investigate the death of a puppy, illegally hiring a deputy and improperly refusing a concealed weapons permit.
Lincoln County Detective Capt. Jim Sweet calls the claims “outrageous.”
“The level of legitimacy here is real close to zero,” Sweet told the Missoulian newspaper. “I’ve looked into it, my primary sex crimes investigator has looked into it, the county prosecutor has looked into it, the state has looked into it. There’s nothing. It’s totally unfounded.”
The sheriff does acknowledge one claim against him is true: last fall he denied a concealed weapons permit to Eureka-area resident Paul Stramer.
Anderson says Stramer was deeply involved in the “Freemen” uprising of 1996, when federal agents squared off against the leaders of an anti-government group in eastern Montana.
Stramer said he merely sympathized with the group, and was trying to sell them some communications equipment.
Last week, in rejecting the petition, the county clerk and recorder invited the woman who led the recall effort, Ginny Emerson, to resubmit — but only if she signs an affidavit that holds her accountable for the alleged facts in the petition.
Emerson has declined comment.
Diane Kaechele, spokeswoman for the recall effort, says the group stands by its accusations. Kaechele also rejected speculation that the recall is tied in any way to general anti-government activity, or to a movement to install a sheriff willing to oppose federal laws.
Politics have “nothing to do with what we’re doing, in terms of proving Sheriff Daryl Anderson incompetent,” Kaechele told the Missoulian.
“The petition stands on its own,” she said. “Anderson’s incompetent. Period.”
Local officials and the three Lincoln County commissioners recently signed a unanimous letter of support for Anderson, calling the complaints “gossip-led attempts to discredit a committed public servant.”
Sweet and others have suggested the recall effort is more campaign than complaint.
“To me,” the detective said, “it’s quite apparent that discrediting your opponent sure does put you in a better position come election time.”
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