Conservatives haven’t been touting the ‘turn government over to the states’ line recently, since they have more important things to do like get all up in women’s vaginas, but, time was, the belief that local and state governments would govern better than the federal government was a prominent issue for Republicans (of course, now that they’ve been completely taken over root, branch, and stem by batshitloonitarians, theocrats, and flat-out paranoiacs, it’s hard to find any ideological coherency). With that we bring you an excerpt from some excellent reporting about small-town corruption:
Our investigation into the sheriff started with a joke—literally. I heard our sportswriter joke about people buying guns out of the back of the sheriff’s barbershop. (It’s a county of about 38,000, and the sheriff worked as a barber.) On a whim, I sent an open records request to view the sheriff’s evidence logs. He refused to show them to me but after an appeal to the state attorney general, I got them. I found there were months when nothing—guns, drugs or money—was recorded. That was quite unusual, considering we had a drug-related arrest story in nearly every edition of our 6,000-circulation daily.
At best, this was shoddy record-keeping. At worst, perhaps he really was selling guns from the back of his barbershop….
We found that guns that should have been in the sheriff’s custody weren’t. Our big break came after we sent a records request about the whereabouts of 18 particular guns. Days later, before we received a reply, the sheriff’s office was “broken into” and Hodge claimed 78 guns (including the ones we asked about), drug evidence, and paperwork were stolen.
It certainly seemed convenient.
The next day the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacted Adam and me as it began an investigation into the department. We kept digging, fueled by tips from citizens and readers. We found that drug evidence wasn’t being submitted to the crime lab for testing and was nowhere to be found. State audits revealed that hundreds of thousands of dollars were missing from the department.
Everywhere I went friends, attorneys and even my optometrist warned me to be careful, but I didn’t get spooked until a State Police trooper came to my office one day just to say I was doing a “brave thing.” City cops started telling me the same thing. And that’s about the time I went out to buy a pistol.
This is just the beginning–read the whole thing. Having been around for a while, local governments can be every bit as corrupt as the federal government, but usually there’s even less awareness of what’s happening.