Kem Kimbrough and Victor Hill face off for Clayton Co. Sheriff - CBS46 News

Kem Kimbrough and Victor Hill face off for Clayton County Sheriff

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CLAYTON COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

A local political race is getting dirty in metro Atlanta as allegations and mud are being slung in a fierce fight to become Clayton County's next sheriff.

The long-standing hatred between the two candidates is no secret, but the rivalry has now turned into an all-out war.

Incumbent Sheriff Kem Kimbrough claimed his opponent, former sheriff Victor Hill, is a criminal who needs to be behind bars and even used county-paid investigators to prove it.

But Hill alleged that Kimbrough used his public office to dig up dirt on Hill in an effort to thwart his run for office. On Wednesday, Hill will be standing before a grand jury, where he is accused of racketeering and theft.

The two political powerhouses both sat down with CBS Atlanta's Chief Investigative Reporter Wendy Saltzman to discuss their rivalry.

"Do you think it is ethical to use taxpayer-funded resources to investigate your opponent in a political race?" Saltzman asked Kimbrough.

"I am not investigating a person in a political race," Kimbrough said. "I am holding a person accountable who committed violations of Georgia Law. That is my job, that is the oath that I swore."

Hill disagreed.

"I think the fact that he would try something like this makes him a criminal," Hill said.  "And the biggest criminal in the worse way."

Late last year, Hill announced his plans to make a run for his old office.

"I am putting my name on the ballot because I am an innocent man," Hill said.

Kimbrough said Hill abused his power when in office.

"Instead of seeing the responsibility in the Sheriff's Office, he saw the power and the authority and the fame and the fortune, and that's where he got lost," Kimbrough said.

Hill was charged with 37 counts of criminal action, including using county gas for personal trips and placing campaign donations into his personal account.

"I feel it is politically motivated, I know now for a fact beyond any reasonable doubt that the sheriff of Clayton County is behind the investigation, he initiated it," Hill said.

Hill said Kimbrough illegally used his public office for his own political gain.

"How is it that the sheriff can investigate his opponent, and use county resources to do that," Hill questioned.

When asked whether he had used his public office for personal gain, Kimbrough said he had not.

Kimbrough admitted he had a number of investigators tasked to investigating Hill and other allegations of corruption.  But he said that investigation started before Hill announced he was running for office.

Kimbrough said he didn't think it was a conflict of interest.

"Because I am sworn to uphold the law, regardless of where you came from, regardless of what position you hold, then I am sworn to hold you to the law," Kimbrough said.

If Hill is indicted on Wednesday, that does not keep him from running for office. But if he is tried and convicted, that's another matter.

"I am not intimidated, and we will fight this to the end," Hill said. "And I will run for sheriff."

Hill said he will file a complaint against Kimbrough, alleging that the sheriff used taxpayer-funded resources for political purposes.

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