Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton
Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton

Embattled Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton doesn't have the support of his deputies.

An "overwhelming majority" of the county's Deputy Sheriff's Association (DSA)—the union representing deputies and sergeants—voted no confidence today, according to a letter released from DPA president Matt Ferguson. The corrections deputies' union, on the other hand, says they are "moving past the recent distractions."

"Sheriff Staton leads ruthlessly and unpredictably through fear and favoritism, threatening those in way, yet rewarding those who get in line," a union press release says. "He has fostered an environment of hostility, where those who constructively criticize his actions are met with retaliation, threats and name calling. His reckless leadership style has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted taxpayer monies paid to remedy his recklessness; funds which instead have been spent to protect our community."

The DSA's no confidence vote and Ferguson's letter come three days after the state Department of Justice announced it had cleared Staton of any criminal wrongdoing. After a request from county chair Deborah Kafoury and district attorney Rod Underhill, the Oregon DOJ had been looking into allegations that Staton improperly collected information on a citizen council, threatened violence, created a hostile workplace (per a tort filed by a deputy), and offered a promotion to Ferguson in an attempt to block the forthcoming "no confidence" vote.

Ferguson's letter lays out his union's strife with Staton (see it in full below, on pages 3 and 4 of the embedded document). Here are some highlights:

*Early January 2016: Ferguson says he and the corrections union president were summoned to a meeting with Staton, who told them Kafoury was "making a 'power play' for his job" by seeking to make the Sheriff appointed, via a volunteer Charter Review Committee. Staton said the unions had to "present information" to the committee in support of maintaining an elected sheriff, and that he had "files" on its members. (The DOJ said those files came from Google searches of the members, which is not technically illegal.)

*"Shortly thereafter": A female deputy filed a tort claim against Staton for creating a hostile work environment. Staton told the DSA the claims were baseless and he'd fight it, but the county settled the lawsuit for $300,000 the next week. The DSA met with some elected officials after this, it says, "who said their relationship with the Sheriff had been damaged... The DSA also learned from members of the Sheriff's Office command staff that they worked under the threat of firing and retaliation."

*March 8, 2016 (emphasis ours):

I told the Sheriff members of the DSA had discussed a vote of no confidence based on failed leadership from the hostile work environment lawsuit, and unpredictable and retaliatory behavior towards members of his command staff, preventing them from leading the agency effectively... Sheriff Staton said dealing with the DSA was "worse than dealing with a bunch of criminals." Sheriff Staton also explained he planned to sue members of his command staff and the media once the lawsuits were over.

*April 13, 2016: Ferguson felt Staton was offering him a bribe after suggestion he could get a promotion, and that Staton said he'd "sue anyone who turns their back" on him. "I took those statements as a potential bribe to curry favor with the union, followed by a threat of retaliation if we proceeded with a no-confidence vote."

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*April 23, 2016: Per Ferguson, Staton told the union to "go ahead with your vote" but "you will be slapped in the face." He again reiterated his plan to sue "people in the media and the sheriff's office."

*Today: an "overwhelming majority" of the Deputy Sheriff's Association votes no confidence in Staton.

Read the letter here, on page 3 and 4: