Allegations fly in final days of Maricopa County Sheriff's race

Posted at 5:29 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-31 00:22:27-04

PHOENIX — With just days to go until the election, new controversies are popping up in the race for Maricopa County sheriff.

Incumbent Paul Penzone, a Democrat, has served one term in office. He's being challenged by Jerry Sheridan who served as chief deputy under former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The East Valley NAACP is blasting Republican candidate Jerry Sheridan after he demonstrated this month how he would spray a stinky chemical called skunk water on break up crowds. The NAACP said the idea was horrific and claimed Sheridan would violate people's First Amendment rights.

The AZ Patriots, an anti-illegal immigration fringe group, recently posted a Facebook video of one of their leaders chatting with Sheridan at a campaign event.

AZ Patriot Jennifer Harrison, who is also facing criminal charges in an identity theft case, asked Sheridan if he had a "word for the patriots."

Sheridan replied he was their "constitutional conservative Republican candidate." He also explained how to donate to his campaign. When asked about the video, a campaign spokesman said Sheridan didn't know who the woman was, and he was being polite. "This is Jerry being Jerry," Penzone's campaign manager said in a statement. "He has a long history of supporting known racists like his old boss Joe Arpaio."

ABC15 also obtained an anonymous complaint letter that alleges Sheriff Paul Penzone's may have urged investigators not to write certain reports about threats against himself and other Democratic elected officials. Failing to write reports on investigations would be a violation of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Policy and federal court orders.

According to the sheriff's office, the complaint is from 2019, and all complaints are thoroughly investigated. Penzone would not comment on the allegation because an outside investigator is still looking into it.

"He has let both the public and the employees of MCSO down, all while hypocritically campaign on themes of 'Integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability,'" said Jerry Sheridan in a statement.

MCSO also had to return nearly $400,000 to PetSmart charities after delays in building a new MASH animal shelter. PetSmart Charities said the delays were due to COVID-19, and they want to give the money to other animal charities that could use it right away.