Get a move on
Sheriff's Lt. Bob Sergi, who is running for Jackson County sheriff and has been accused of illegally using a Sheriff's Department employee roster to solicit campaign donations, says he's not worried about the outcome of the investigation. He should be.
We say that not because we think Sergi is guilty of the charge — we have no way of knowing that — but because the charges will hurt his campaign even if he is exonerated.
Sergi says he's not worried because he did nothing wrong. But the longer the investigation takes, the more doubts will fester in the minds of voters.
That's why the Oregon Department of Justice should move as quickly as possible to complete the investigation and reach a conclusion. If the investigation drags on too long, it is conceivable Sergi might be elected and then be unable to serve if found guilty of the charge.
Sergi, who is a lieutenant and night supervisor at the Jackson County Jail, has been on administrative leave since April 1, when he was notified of the investigation. The Justice Department initially wouldn't tell him what he was accused of except to say it was related to the campaign.
Last week, Sergi announced he was being accused of using a Sheriff's Department employee roster to solicit campaign donations, but he denied any wrongdoing. He says he used a database of all registered voters in the county, which is public information used by other campaigns as well, including that of one of his opponents.
Sergi is challenging his boss, Sheriff Mike Winters, who is seeking re-election to the post he first won in 2002. Also in the race is Corey Falls, deputy chief of the Ashland Police Department.
The Department of Justice has no choice but to investigate once a formal accusation is made. But the department does have an obligation to expedite the case and to resolve it as quickly as possible, especially with about 10 days left before voters begin to receive ballots in the mail.