King: Fired by sheriff for conduct
Republican candidate for Mesa County sheriff and state Sen. Steve King says he was dismissed earlier this month from a part-time job at the Sheriff’s Office over what he described as an act of “insubordination.”
“I walked out of a meeting,” an apologetic King told The Daily Sentinel on Thursday. “You put your supervisor in a really bad position. You just don’t do that.”
Asked if he was fired by former Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, King replied, “I was told my services were no longer needed any further in reference to that job.”
A former sheriff’s investigator, King was elected to the Colorado House in 2006 and hired in 2007 in the capacity of a part-time, hourly wage employee of the Sheriff’s Office performing audit and compliance work.
Hilkey, a three-term sheriff who left June 13 as Colorado’s new director of public safety under Gov. John Hickenlooper, said Friday he couldn’t discuss a Mesa County personnel matter unless King signed a release allowing disclosure.
Hilkey did say, “I’m glad he’s talking about it.”
Mesa County Sheriff Rebecca Spiess, who, according to King, was in attendance earlier this month along with Hilkey during the meeting in question, said she couldn’t confirm or deny King’s account for reasons articulated by Hilkey.
King on Friday said he’s willing to sign a release. He later sent an email statement:
“After my 15 years of service at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, the Undersheriff (Spiess, at the time) questioned what she mistakenly felt was a reporting error by me in the amount of $390 for contract law enforcement services,” the statement said.
“I have an exemplary record within the department and felt deeply offended that my integrity would be questioned in such a manner,” King’s statement continued. “Following a spirited discussion in which I expressed those feelings, I decided to leave the meeting without the permission of the Undersheriff, and my contract was ended.”
King’s statement continued: “Understanding that this is the political silly season, I wanted to reassure the citizens of Mesa County I have never done, and will never do, anything to compromise my integrity or do anything but be completely forthright with them on any issue, no matter how large or small.”
King said he mailed $390 to the Sheriff’s Office “as a show of good faith until this matter is resolved.”
King on Thursday told the newspaper the meeting in question involved Hilkey and Spiess, and was punctuated by a “disagreement” between the parties. The meeting concerned “paperwork related to hours at the jail and patrol” and an “honest mistake.”
The meeting was on June 5 and he was dismissed in a face-to-face meeting with Hilkey the next day, King said.
“The timing for my inappropriate behavior couldn’t have been worse,” he said, adding he was “embarrassed” by the affair.
“I’m going to get pounded,” he said.
Does he still enjoy Hilkey’s support in the race to be Mesa County’s next elected sheriff?
“You’re going to have to ask Director Hilkey that,” King said.
Hilkey did not reply to a text message query on that point.
Records obtained by the Sentinel show a full week went by before sheriff’s employees were told of King’s departure.
The Sentinel on Friday was provided under the Colorado Open Records Act a department-wide email sent at 12:43 p.m. on June 13. That was Hilkey’s last day on the job and Spiess’ first as sheriff.
“Effective 06/06/14, Steve King is no longer employed by the MCSO,” employees learned June 13. “We wish him well in his future endeavors!”
Mesa County’s primary election is Tuesday.
Records show 13,664 ballots were returned between the date of King’s confirmed departure and Friday.