JEFFERSON-Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan has accused his predecessor, James Williams, of engaging in a “political fishing expedition” after receiving a records request from a Charlotte based television reporter.
During Monday’s commissioners meeting, Buchanan stood before the board with a letter from WBTV News that requested what he described as personal information from Buchanan and county commissioners. He said the request included communications, which entails emails between him and the elected board.
Buchanan reiterated that he has nothing to hide.
“My cell phone is public information,” said Buchanan. “I couldn’t care less if you came up to me, took my phone and put everything out there. Since I’ve took office, with all that we have going on in this county: getting the hospital up, getting the school up…We have a political divide. We are going to let an outside reporter come in and start investigating the sheriff’s office? We have a small platform in the last three months, so my paper trail is very small. This is a former administration standing out and getting a reporter finding out what’s going on. This takes away from our job. I don’t understand where this comes from. I know this is political. I know they are asking for information to bring out certain things.”
Buchanan was appointed to the office of sheriff in January by the board of commissioners. His appointment created a political rift within the community as many in the county banked on the ascension of long-time deputy Bucky Absher, who was backed by Williams.
As far as what information there is to disclose, Buchanan said everything that is discussed within his department relates to personnel and criminal investigation and not subject to records requests.
Buchanan said these requests “thwarts his efforts” as sheriff and “takes time to pull these records.
“I’m very transparent; I want the citizens to know what’s going on,” said Buchanan.
Buchanan also challenged local members of the press to request the same set of records of former Sheriff James Williams if WBTV is allowed to request his.
“If (they) do to five of us and me, I would say in the same time frame, they request from Bucky Absher and James Williams the same comments. What you are trying to find here is political speech. I’ve never had a relationship with these commissioners,” said Buchanan.
The sheriff’s comments, which exceeded his three-minute allotment as pointed out by Commissioner Larry Rhodes, took a religious turn toward the end.
“We got to get back in this house in praying in Jesus’s name,” said Buchanan. “If we start doing that we will be blessed.”
He closed with a succinct message to the board in the form of a question.
“Why would we have an outsider come in this county and put us on state and national news?”
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Sheriff Terry Buchanan is not pleased with a recent records request from a Charlotte based television station.