El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa went on the radio over the weekend and told KVOR's Jeff Crank that the Senate Democrats have threatened to retaliate against the state's sheriffs for opposing the Democrats' slate of gun bills.
The Democrats' alleged weapon? A bill to authorize pay increases for sheriffs.
Maketa said he was one of 30 sheriffs who traveled to Denver last week to speak in opposition to the bills, which range from banning high-capacity magazines to expanding background checks for gun purchases. Maketa told Crank that the Senate leadership is upset over the sheriffs' public opposition. An e-mail from a member of County Sheriffs of Colorado laid out the Democrats' stance, Maketa said. The sheriffs were being urged to "reconsider our positions to gain a more favorable light for salary support from the Dems."
The bill to boost the sheriffs' pay, which failed to make its way through the past two sessions, is now at the mercy of the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
"The salary bill for elected officials is a mandate of the Legislature," Maketa told Crank. "... I made it very clear that I felt that it was almost bordering extortion, attempted influence of [a] public official ...."
Maketa noted that the attorney general's office could investigate.
Senate President John Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, countered Maketa's claim: "These allegations are not only false, they are ridiculous. Sheriff Maketa is referencing an e-mail from a member of the sheriff's trade association, CSOC — a lobbying and political organization. He has provided no evidence that anyone in leadership actually said or e-mailed they were withholding a pay increase to get support on the bills."
According to the Colorado Senate Majority, which oversees the offices of the Senate Democrats, the person who made the statement behind the outrage "was not a Democratic legislator or staffer, but an individual stating their own opinion without referencing the salary bill."