AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF-TV) – The Richmond County sheriff’s race is heating up as the Republican candidate has filed an ethics complaint against sheriff Richard Roundtree.
Brian McDuffie is accusing Roundtree of using uniformed and on-the-clock deputies for his re-election campaign video.
Georgia law states that government agencies and people acting on behalf of those agencies cannot make contributions to a campaign.
McDuffie believes the deputies seen in the video are acting on behalf of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
McDuffie held a press conference on Saturday in Columbia County. He says he chose that location because it’s neutral.
He outlined several problems he has with Roundtree, including the campaign video.
“Some deputies volunteered. Some were kind of forced to participate. Most of these deputies were solicited under false pretenses that it was a recruitment video,” McDuffie said.
McDuffie filed an ethics complaint with the state last week. Now, the sheriff is responding saying his campaign specifically reached out to employees who wanted to help.
“The deputies were not paid and they were volunteering. We just think it’s a desperate attempt at a campaign that really has not got any traction in this city,” the sheriff said.
You’ll remember that McDuffie was fired by Roundtree in 2013 for using excessive force on a 15-year-old boy.
Some believe the termination is why McDuffie is running for sheriff.
“This is not a vengeful run. Anybody that has known me and anybody that wants proof that it isn’t a vengeful run, I’d be happy more than happy to give it to them,” McDuffie said.
McDuffie says he’s been considering a run since 2010.
“The sheriff’s office, in a nutshell, needs to be overhauled. It doesn’t really, not knocking at the prior administration or current administration, it just doesn’t utilize it’s resources properly,” McDuffie added.
Sheriff Roundtree says otherwise. He says in 4 years, he’s achieved all of his goals including national and state accreditation, but he adds there is always room for improvement.
“We’ve talked about the UNISYS platform. Eventually, we want to make that into a precinct, almost like the office here where it’s manned 24 hours a day,” Roundtree said.
If elected, McDuffie says he will drop his salary to the state minimum of $110,000 for a sheriff. He also says he will structure the agency to save taxpayer money.
Roundtree says he will keep focusing on community policing and lowering crime numbers.