Secretary of State investigating Sheriff Clark
Investigation may take several months to completePersonnel from the Oregon Secretary of State's Office are investigating a complaint that was filed against Crook County Sheriff Rodd Clark alleging undue influence.
"The allegation is that there was undue influence, an attempt to induce a candidate to refrain from being a candidate or not to be a candidate," said Norma Buckno, who is a compliance specialist with the state agency. "We did receive a complaint regarding the election process alleging undue influence against Sheriff Clark regarding Sam Forney's eligibility and so forth."
The complaint was faxed to the office on March 7.
But Buckno emphasized that because this is an election year and that there are many initiative petition signatures that must be verified by the Secretary of State's Office, that the investigation may take several months to complete.
"It's all based on how many other complaints we have," she added.
Clark commented on the complaint.
"Yeah, they sent me a complaint or a letter, I guess at the end of June or the first part of July," Clark said. "It was a confidential investigation and the questions they were asking me were whether or not they should initiate an investigation, is what I recall."
He confirmed that the complaint was regarding the allegation of undue influence according to what he received from the Secretary of State's office.
"They asked specific questions from me," the sheriff said. "I don't know where they came from. They were bogus as far as I was concerned."
The case has been assigned to fellow Secretary of State Compliance Specialist Carla Corbin.
"A lot of it is just gathering information, but it's not unusual for these types of complaints - based on workload - to take six to nine months," Buckno said. If the investigation is then forwarded to the Oregon Attorney General's office, it could take longer, and then even longer if it goes to a grand jury.
She declined to release many specifics on the complaint.
"Whenever we have a complaint that involves an election law that is classified in the election law as a potential criminal penalty, we hold those investigations confidential until they are closed," she said. "So there's not a whole lot that I can tell you. We still have not gotten around to finishing this one. We are investigating the complaint and getting both sides of the story and all that."
She also declined to release the name of the person who filed the document.
The complaint deals with the undue influence statute under the Oregon Revised Statutes, or ORS 260.665, section 2d.
"It covers a lot of different situations, or could," she said.
"And on the ones that are classified as criminal, if we decide to proceed, what we do is gather the evidence and review it with our legal counsel," she said. Then, if there's the belief that the matter needs to be further investigated, it is sent to Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers' office.
"If they get back to us and say it's a prosecutable crime, then it would go to the grand jury," Buckno said. "And they may choose to decide to indict, or not."
Clark defeated sheriff's challengers Sam Forney, Marlen Hein, Gary Robertson and Jeff Coffman in the May primary.