BENTON COUNTY, WA- The Benton County Commissioners voted to not help Sheriff Jerry Hatcher with legal fees in his fight against a recall petition effort.
Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to not use county tax dollars to aid in legal representation for the sheriff.
This comes as Sheriff Hatcher faces a recall effort for allegations of misconduct brought from Benton County Sergeant Jason Erickson. In the recall petition, he accused his boss of committing illegal acts and performing the duties of his office in an improper manner.
On Friday, prosecutors filed a ballot synopsis summarizing the eight charges against Hatcher.
In the petition filed by Sgt. Erickson, he said: "Sheriff Hatcher has demonstrated a pattern of willful misconduct, violated state laws and degraded the public's trust."
Last month the Benton County Sheriff's Deputy Guild came out strong with an announcement to recall their boss, Sheriff Jerry Hatcher, following two separate votes of “no confidence,” internal investigations surrounding discrimination and harassment, and dozens of allegations against the public official.
Prosecutor Andy Miller brought Sheriff Hatcher’s request before the commissioners.
Miller said there is no case law on whether the county needs to approve covering Hatcher’s legal costs, adding that the decision is not connected to their support of the recall effort of Hatcher.
Sheriff Hatcher and Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin about what Tuesday's decision means moving forward.
"It's because of him. I mean its solely because of him. That was the issue in the jail was solely because of him, his actions and this is all on him. The retaliation claims the retaliation whistleblowing," Delvin said.
"You're supposed to have representation there are some political things that have gone on here that I think have been well documented with the commissioners so it was no surprise to me that they elected not to support that but unfortunately that puts the financial burden on me personally," Sheriff Hatcher said.
Sheriff Hatcher denies the allegations and says he thinks the situation should be handled within his department.
The process of recalling a sheriff calls for four major steps: a ballot synopsis, approval from a Superior Court Judge, thousands of signatures, and finally a vote from the people.
A Superior Court judge must determine if the allegations that Hatcher committed misfeasance, malfeasance, and violated his oath of office are factually and legally sufficient to support a recall.
Sheriff Hatcher's first recall hearing is scheduled on Aug. 13 at the Benton County Justice Center.