Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Questions for Sheriffs

Category: Issue 21

The Riverside County Campaing For Liberty folks worked up some questions for the candidates for sheriff, Stan Sniff and Frank Robles.  Based on our passion for liberty and on the inspiring words of former Sheriff Richard Mack of Graham County, Arizona, we developed questions and posed them to both current Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and his June 8th Election opponent, Retired Chief Deputy Frank Robles.

Retired Chief Deputy Robles was emailed the questions on April 6th and kindly responded via email on April 14th.

Sheriff Sniff was personally given a hard copy of the questions on April 5th and, at the request of his assistant for the purpose of responding electronically, given another copy of the questions via email on April 15th.  Sheriff Sniff has not yet responded but his assistant reiterated, via email on April 28th, the sheriff’s desire to respond as soon as possible amongst the requests of other groups and from being out of town for one week.

Please peruse the questions we developed and the responses we have received so far.  We welcome your comments!

Here is what we gave them, along with Frank Robles’ answers:

We would like to open a dialog with you about the importance of your position, based both on our passion for liberty and on our reading of Sheriff Richard Mack’s book, “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.”  We realize with the upcoming election, you may not have time to participate in an ongoing dialog, so we’ve chosen the following six questions.  We will publish your answers on the Internet, including the Campaign for Liberty website, and in other places as we believe this may help your campaign.  We will also provide Retired Chief Deputy Robles / Sheriff Sniff with these questions, give him the opportunity to respond and publish his answers alongside yours.  Preceding the questions are premises that will help clarify our reasons for each question, and may help frame your answers.

Premise 1 In Sheriff Richard Mack’s short book, “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope,” he provides historical and legal evidence of the very basic principles that the people of a county must have a recourse when their federal or state government abuses them.  He asserts that the sheriff is that recourse and that his authority, being directly from the people of his county, is higher than that of the Federal Government’s.  Sheriff Mack won a Supreme Court victory on June 27, 1997 against the Federal Government and its implementation of the Brady Bill gun law passed in 1994.  The Supreme Court ruling in his favor cited three times that the States are “not subject to Federal direction” and Justice Scalia wrote, “the Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program” (from page 10 of Sheriff Mack’s book on Mack / Printz v. United States).

Question 1 How will you prepare the sheriff’s office and county law enforcement officers to defend the citizens of Riverside County from the Federal or State Government if they act or have acted outside of the authority granted them by the Federal or State Constitution?

Robles: The way this question is asked, sounds like the Federal Government is getting ready to invade Riverside County.  If there is some impropriety in the way Federal or State agencies are doing business in Riverside County I will address each incident on a case by case basis.  If there is a pattern involving any type of inappropriate conduct in some area or another that starts to develop, then that also will be addressed as accordingly.

Premise 2 This premise and question is really the crux of our interview.  Specifically, it is the erosion of our Constitutional liberties by actions of the Federal, and to a lesser extent, State Government.  Thomas Jefferson wrote about it a lot.  For example, “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Question 2 Do you believe our Federal Government is generally staying within the confines of the Constitution or, as Jefferson warned, slowly eroding our liberties?  How about the State Government?  Do you believe the State of California is now more aligned with or indebted to the Federal Government because it accepts federal monies such as the stimulus funds in 2009?

Robles: I believe that there is cause for concern about how Federal and California State Governments are currently being run.  The budgets in both are completely out of control.  We are now facing debt at both levels of government that are going to take years, perhaps decades to pay off and increased taxes are just one of the ways that will be done.  When you stop to think that Benjamin Franklin’s original purpose of taxes was only for public safety, it is easy to see how far from that original purpose government has strayed.

There is no question that California is deeply indebted to the Federal Government.

Premise 3 Because sheriffs have sworn to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land, the sheriff’s oath of office is cited by many who are looking to county sheriffs to help save this country from a Federal Government that has grown too burdensome and overbearing.

Question 3 Do you believe the sheriff’s office has the authority, power and responsibility to protect the citizens’ liberties as described in the Constitution of the United States from the Federal Government even if the legislative and judicial branches are directing it otherwise by their actions and decisions?  If your answer is no, please explain your rationale.  If you have had instances where you have blocked or ignored the directions from other branches of the government because of your oath, please cite them.  Do you believe anyone or any agency supersedes the Sheriff as the law in Riverside County?  If your answer is yes, please explain your rationale.

Robles: I do believe that the sheriff has the authority, power and responsibility to protect citizens liberties as described in the Constitution, but I also believe that the citizens of this country have a responsibility to protect and defend these same liberties by being informed about what is going on in their government, and by showing up at the ballot box on election day.  Too many of our citizens are critical of our government and our politicians, but on election day they fail miserably in performing their duty as citizens.

Premise 3.5 As cited in Sheriff Mack’s book, approximately 13 years ago the INS and the Big Horn County, Wyoming Sheriff’s Department wrongly raided the home of American citizens.  As a result, Sheriff Dave Mattis of Big Horn County made a policy that all federal agents would have to check with him before operating within the county again.  According to Sheriff Mack’s research, the sheriffs of Wyoming adopted a policy that all federal agents would have to check with them before they could make arrests, serve papers, or confiscate property. Apparently, this policy is working well for the citizens, sheriffs and even the federal agents in Wyoming (page 32 and 33 of Sheriff Mack’s book).

Question 3.5 What are your thoughts and feelings about implementing a similar policy in Riverside County?

Robles: First off let me say that comparing anything that happens in Wyoming to anything that happens in California, is truly like comparing apples to oranges.  Next let me tell you that in the 38 years that I’ve been in law enforcement in Southern California, there have been numerous times that police agencies have raided the wrong house for one reason or another.  Innocent people were victimized by these wrong house raids.  These innocent victims took their cases to court, which is exactly what courts are for, and the cases were properly adjudicated.  That’s the way the system works and from what I could tell over the years, it works pretty well.  Law enforcement agencies were disciplined when necessary and damages were awarded to innocent victims when courts ruled in their favor.  I am not presently aware of a particular problem in Riverside County that would currently require special consideration in this area, but that said, if a particular problem arose I would address it accordingly.

Premise 4 There are specific issues that we feel are currently diminishing, or if implemented would diminish, the liberties of Riverside County citizens.  It appears to us that the sheriff of a county has the ultimate authority to interpret the constitutions to which he swore an oath and direct the law enforcement officers under him to enforce the law in accordance with those interpretations.  Whether or not you agree with that in general, we’re asking about specific cases.

Question 4 Please consider the items below and any others you’d like to include.  Do you believe you have the authority, power and responsibility to defend the citizens of Riverside County against any of them?  If yes, which ones?  How will the sheriff’s office, under your direction, require the Federal and State government activity in Riverside County to respect their constitutional limits?  If you feel any of these do not diminish the liberties of Riverside County citizens, please cite the federal or state constitutional authority for them.

  1. Random IRS audits
  2. IRS seizure of personal property
  3. Government handling of illegal immigration
  4. Gun confiscation
  5. Forced inoculations
  6. Compulsory national service
  7. Mandatory purchase of health insurance coverage
  8. Martial law imposed at the President’s discretion
  9. Peace officers or sheriff’s deputies in Riverside County acting improperly, for example,                                            by illegally forcing citizens to give blood as samples for alcohol analysis
  10. Quota systems used for county or city law enforcement officers’ performance evaluation
  11. The requirement, on the concealed weapon license application, that an applicant must           suffer death threats or harassment to even be considered

Robles: It would take me a week to respond to each item listed in this question and even then the answers may not fully address all the items listed.  Therefore let me say this:  As sheriff I would make every effort to foster good relationships with Federal and State officials in an everyday working environment.  If there are areas where citizens of or in Riverside County are not being treated properly by anyone or any agency acting in an official capacity, regardless of jurisdiction, I would respond accordingly.

Question 5 Is there anything else you’d like to add for those to whom we’ll be publishing your answers to this interview?

Robles: I have read Richard Mack’s book and support many of his view points.  However, if your goal is to rally every sheriff in the United States to save the country, I think you effort is ill conceived and not well thought out.  At the end of the day it is still the responsibility of the citizens of this country to pay attention to what is going on in their government and to vote.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this important discussion.

Frank Robles