Sheriff accused of violating policy in bid for re-election - CBS46 News

Sheriff accused of violating policy in bid for re-election

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
WALTON COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

A contested race for sheriff has prompted voters to speak out about what they believe is misconduct in their county.

The question surrounds a sheriff in Walton County, which is about 47 miles east of Atlanta. 

Some think that Sheriff Joe Chapman violated county and department policy in his bid for re-election. One resident even said the sheriff's department crossed the line during this election cycle.

"He literally came flying into the yard and the first thing out of his mouth is why I had the Keith Glass sign in my yard," said resident Billy Studdard. "That's my business. That's my first amendment right."

Studdard said he got an earful by the chief deputy for not supporting incumbent Chapman.

"We never saw this coming, even though my son is employed by the county," Studdard said. "He's a deputy sheriff. We didn't think this was going to cause any kind of problems because of who I'm voting for. That has nothing to do with the sheriff or my son or anybody else."

"That certainly has a chilling effect on people's first amendment rights," said attorney David Boyle.

Boyle said there's more to this political story -- Chapman posted on his Facebook page, "We have signs available now! Let us know how many you need and we will bring them to you."

But Boyle said video shows that people picked up Chapman's sign at the sheriff's office.

"Running the campaign from the sheriff's department, in terms of having their signs delivered there and having people pick up their signs from there, is also a violation of county policy," Boyle said.

As for Studdard's complaint, the county attorney said that Chapman investigated the situation and determined that the allegations were inaccurate.

"Their vote is their vote and my vote is mine," said Studdard. "That's my right and it was taken away from me."

Chapman did not want to discuss the issue on-camera, but defends his actions and the department, saying they did nothing wrong.

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