Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in findings announced Wednesday by Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson.
In fact, Beeson said there was “not a scintilla of evidence” that the sheriff had violated any laws, despite the claims of anonymous e-mails sent out early this year.
Based on those findings, Vallario can claim vindication, and citizens of Garfield County can be assured that their top law enforcement officer is not breaking the law.
But Beeson’s report didn’t focus on allegations of favoritism within the Sheriff’s Department, nor did it address Vallario’s relationship with a female employee in his department.
Vallario continues to defend that relationship, saying that it — along with 20 or so other relationships between employees in the Sheriff’s Department — is “managed appropriately within the organization.”
We’re not sure what that means, but we believe Vallario is off track about his own relationship with a person whom he ultimately supervises. We think it is wrong for an elected public official to maintain a relationship with someone who is employed by him. No matter how appropriately managed, it will ultimately lead to complaints of favoritism, such as those in the anonymous e-mails and that have been raised by former members of the department.
Because Garfield County has no term limits for sheriff, Vallario said he plans to seek re-election in 2010. It will be up to voters then to determine whether the sheriff has operated his department in such a manner that he deserves to be re-elected.