El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa dropped a bombshell over the weekend claiming Colorado Senate Democrats are threatening sheriffs' salaries because sheriffs oppose gun control legislation. But big questions remain about who the threats came from.
Maketa made the allegations Saturday morning on the Jeff Crank Radio Show on KVOR. He said he got an email from a member of the County Sheriffs of Colorado describing a verbal conversation that person had with someone connected to Senate democrats.
"Basically in that email, it said the Senate majority leadership, the Dems, are very upset with your opposition and testimony on the gun bills and they are stating we should reconsider our positions to gain a more favorable light for salary support from the Dems," Maketa said.
In a nutshell: that Senate democrats are delaying a measure to raise sheriffs' salaries because sheriffs are speaking out against gun control.
"I made it clear that I felt it was almost bordering extortion," Maketa said. "Attempted influence of a public official."
Maketa never names the person who sent him the email or the person or legislator who connected sheriffs' pay with gun control legislation.
Maketa has refused all media interviews, and a sheriff's office spokesperson told TARGET 13 that Maketa planned to write a letter to a local newspaper to be published Tuesday and would not comment before then.
In his KVOR interview Maketa goes on to say, "I think that's the type of antics that we're seeing out of the leadership up there and it starts right at the top with the president of the Senate."
Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said he's furious with Maketa's allegations, calling them hearsay.
"The allegations are completely, totally, utterly false and fabricated," Morse said. "And for one of the top law enforcement officials in our community to make such baseless allegations disturbs me deeply."
Morse said he has contacted other top leaders in the Senate about the allegations.
"(Maketa) knows there's no factual basis to it because he hasn't checked the facts himself," Morse said. "He's in law enforcement so he knows, you always check first and then make your allegations. This is just so out of character."
Morse went on to point out that no senator, Democrat or Republican, has introduced a bill that would raise the pay of county officials.
"I'm not in favor of that bill, but I'm happy to help (Republicans) get it introduced and see if they can get it accomplished," Morse said. "I think with everything families are suffering right now, people like Sheriff Maketa making $111,000 are doing just fine."
Maketa pointed out on his Facebook page that a salary bill would not impact him personally because he is term limited. He also wrote: "I want to make something very clear; I have not been directly threatened or coerced in any way nor would I tolerate any threat."
TARGET 13 contacted the head of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, Chris Olson. He said the email Maketa referenced did not come from him and that he had no knowledge of the allegations Maketa had made.
"Nothing came through our organization," Olson said. "It must be Sheriff Maketa on his own."
Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger said he hadn't received the email. Las Animas County Sheriff James Casius said he'd heard about the allegations but wasn't sure if he'd gotten the email. Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor also wasn't sure and said he didn't want to comment.
TARGET 13 also contacted radio host Jeff Crank to see if Maketa has elaborated on where the threats came from. Crank said Maketa did not.
To watch the KVOR interview in full click here.