Politics | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

[UPDATE] Campaign Controversy in Wakulla County Sheriff Race

By: Jacquie Slater Email
By: Jacquie Slater Email

Wakulla County, Florida- August 10, 2012

A Wakulla County sheriff's candidate under investigation for violating federal election laws is speaking out on the ruling against him.

Wakulla resident Lisa Saavedra filed a complaint with the U.S. office of Special Counsel back in June. She claimed Maurice Langston, a candidate for sheriff in Wakulla County, was breaking federal laws that prohibit a candidate from overseeing federal grant money as pat of their job. At that time Langston served as Undersheriff for the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office.

Said Lisa Saavedra: "I am pleased that there was actually an investigation, because in my mind, based on my understanding of the Hatch Act, it appeared to me that there was a violation."

Langston and his attorney asked for an advisory opinion from the Counsel.

"There has been controversy surrounding the Hatch Act. I wanted to make sure I was in compliance," said Langston.

The counsel ruled Langston was in violation from August 2011 through June 12th of this year. They said Langston violated those laws unintentionally. Saavedrs disagrees, saying Langston signed an oath back in August saying he was aware of the Hatch Act.

We asked Langston to clarify his job title and duties.

Reporter: "Your position at that time, when you signed that oath, what was it?

Langston: "I will have to go back and look to be sure."

Eyewitness News found out Langston was Major of Law Enforcement at that time.

The Counsel ruled when Langston accepted a demotion to Major of Administration on June thirteenth, he bacame in complaince.

The case has been closed. T.W. Maurice Langston is in compliance and he can continue to run as a candidate for Wakulla County Sheriff.

Said Saavedra: "I guess what it boils down to is us the voters. We get to choose in November whether we want somebody who is, in my opinion, either incompetent or dishonest."
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Wakulla County, Florida- July 12, 2012

Maurice Langston is running for sheriff in Wakulla County. One citizen filed an official complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, saying Langston violated the Hatch Act.

Both the Wakulla County Sheriff and one of the men who wants that job are speaking out today about a campaign trail controversy.

It's a story WCTV first brought to you back in June as some accused candidate Maurice Langston of violating federal campaign laws.

Maurice Langston is running for sheriff in Wakulla County. One citizen filed an official complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, saying Langston violated the Hatch Act. After several attempts to speak to Langston, today he has finally released the following statement.

"I, along with legal counsel, believe I am in compliance with the Hatch Act. I do not want to take the voter's attention away from the fact that I am running a clean and successful campaign for Sheriff. My intention is to continue to address Public Safety in Wakulla."

The big question is did Langston travel to Washington, D.C. to lobby for federal funding? Under the Hatch Act, anyone running for partisan office is prohibited from having a job that puts them in charge of federal monies.

Says Sheriff Donny Crum, "Maurice Langston traveled to Washington with me. I was traveling to Washington to talk with other sheriffs, the other three sheriff's that traveled along with me, to talk to a consultant about the ICE contract."

"ICE" refers to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At the time of that trip, Langston was undersheriff for the WCSO. Sheriff Crum said he is well aware of the issues raised by the Hatch Act. The WCSO has asked for an advisory opinion from the Office of Special Counsel.

Crum said he wants to ensure that it's 'business as usual' at the WCSO. He said Langston's campaign is separate from his responsibilities at the agency. Langston has agreed to meet with Slater in person next week at a time when he is not on duty.


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