Showdown at the Leg Hall Corral

Filed in Delaware, National by on May 4, 2012

This coming Wednesday appears to be the day that Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher will be handed his head. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf has introduced HB 325, which will make “Delaware law clear that the county sheriffs and their deputies do not have arrest authority. Historically the sheriffs and deputies have not exercised arrest authority and the Attorney General’s office has given an opinion that the sheriff’s “power to arrest is no greater than that shared by any citizen.” Pete has decided to move ahead when Danny Short (Eunuch-Seaford) and the rest of the Sussex GOP tucked tail and pulled HB 290. Additional sponsors of HB 325 are Sen. Sokola and Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Brady, Carson, Gilligan, Heffernan, Hudson, Jaques, J. Johnson, Q. Johnson, Keeley, Lavelle, Lee, Longhurst, Miro, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Ramone, Schooley, Walker, M. Smith, Scott, B. Short, Viola, and D.E. Williams.

Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf says he wants to press ahead with changes to state law that would make absolutely clear that county sheriffs do not have the authority to make arrests — contrary to what Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher has been claiming since last year.

“This isn’t a political thing, this is all about public safety,” said Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth.

We’ve had numerous posts about this self-appointed sovereign of Sussex, most recently on April 27. The man is simply delusional. His small band of vocal supporters (St. Bodie Girl, Ayotte, Wolfgang von Bombast, the Fatman) have used threats of primaries against any Sussex Republican officeholder who sides against the sheriff. They all claim to be constitutional scholars, but my guess is that they either used Constitution of Dummies or the back of a box of Sugar Pops to get their “understanding” of the Constitution.

Christopher claims that the Delaware Constitution gives him and his deputies arrest powers because they are cited as “conservators of the peace.” They have even gone as far as saying that the slang term “cop” is an abbreviation for conservator of the peace. It’s not.

Sussex Sheriff Jeff Christopher says his interpretation of that term is that he and his deputies have arrest powers, the same as other law enforcements officers who are also conservators of the peace. He says his power is established by the state constitution and not state law or county policy. He has repeatedly asked county council to provide more funds for deputy training, and he wants his deputies to attend the state police academy.

While Christopher has asked for more money for training, he has never told County Council what type of training he wants for his deputies. In fact, he allowed their constable certification to expire last year.

On April 25, a report was released by the State House of Representatives which was the most damning evidence of the wrongdoing by Wyatt Earp Jeff Christopher. When the Chief Magistrate orders his judges not to accept anyone the sheriff or his deputies arrests as a prisoner, then you know that someone is overstepping their bounds.

Christopher appears to be gearing up for a legal fight. He’s raising funds through The Legacy Foundation, a shadowy Iowa-based non-profit, run by the former speaker pro-tem of the Iowa House. According to their mission statement “The mission of the Legacy Foundation is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government. Our efforts center around public policy research and alternative policy initiatives in, but not limited to, these core areas: state fiscal and tax policy, the creation of an entrepreneurial environment, education, labor-management relations, citizenship, civil rights and government transparency issues.” Nothing in there about constitutional sheriffs, however, they are raising money for something called the Border Sheriffs Project, an Arizona-based group. And we all know how bat-shit crazy these sheriffs in Arizona are.

The Legacy Foundation also got involved in the Ohio referendum election last fall, being accused of sending out misleading mailers.

What we don’t get is why a group out of Iowa cares what Ohio does in state referendum and Constitutional Amendment issues?

The Legacy Foundation, formed in 2008 by former Speaker of the Iowa House and gubernatorial candidate Christopher Rants, is sending out misleading, though innocuous looking mailers that appear to be simple reminders to vote tomorrow. The text clearly favors Yes votes on both Issues 2 & 3:

Yeah, they just want to educate people on the “facts.” Wonder if they’re getting involved in our school board elections.

All this time that Christopher has wasted on claiming to be a law enforcement officer (he’s not), has resulted in a 5 month backlog in sheriff’s sales down here. And that not only costs the county money, it also costs the banks or whoever holds the mortgages on those properties money. His office used to return money to the county each year under former sheriff Eric Swanson; not so under this small government Republican.

The sheriff down here is delusional. He has claimed he’s sovereign over every other elected official in the county. His supporters have even declared him to be the chief executive of the county. He is a far-right nut job with a gun, associating with white supremacists and militia men. He’s dangerous. And come Wednesday, he’s going to get a civics lesson and his comeuppance. It’s about damn time.

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A rabble-rousing bureaucrat living in Sussex County

Comments (16)

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  1. anon says:


    Two factual errors.

    First, the backlog has existed for several years, due to the surge in foreclosures. It existed under Swanson, too. That can’t be blamed on Christopher.

    Second, the sheriff’s office still makes money for the county. The revenue it brings in from foreclosure sales is pure gravy. Its personnel costs are fairly fixed (it takes the same amount of manpower to run one auction as it does 200), so in bad times, the sheriff’s office looks like a cash cow.

    That does not mean, however, that Christopher has done a bang-up job of bringing in cash, or that the sheriff’s office is always going to be a money-maker. Foreclosures are the area where you’d expect money to be coming from in a bad economy, just like you’d expect to see revenue up from building permits in a bad economy.

  2. MJ says:

    Sorry, anon, but when county councilmen (all of them) tell me that there is a backlog and that the sheriff has wasted the extra employees they gave him last year, that tells me there’s a problem. Swanson actually had cleared up the backlog from Reed (Christopher’s boss at that time); things have gone down the toilet since Jeffy-pooh took office.

  3. SussexWatcher says:

    The backlog existed when Christopher took over. He may have wasted his extra staff, but he did not create the backlog. Nor did the backlog originate with Reed. You are misunderstanding the information. The backlog was caused by the recession and has persisted because of the recession, not because of mismanagement. There is a practical limit on how many properties can be processed and auctioned each month. Even NCCo runs a while “behind.”

    You have enough shit on Christopher without this. No need to get your knickers in a twist.

  4. SussexWatcher says:

    (Sorry for posting under diff’t names – on two devices. Will synch identities. My bad.)

  5. Anon says:

    I tank there will always be somewhat of a backlog on foreclosures, due to stays or whatever. The real question is how much of a backlog is there in delivering the family court documents, etc. Lineweaver is not delivering papers while pulling over cars and going to JP court to try to obtain warrants.Christopher requested additional deputies to help with this and then instructed his deputies to act like police officers and not to do the jobs they were hired to do. On his Facebook page Barbie has so kindly pointed out that Christopher vowed not to expand the office when he campaigned, yet he requested more staff before his first budget hearing. Lie upon lie upon lie.

    Did anyone else notice in the report that Sussex County released that the sheriff himself has never arrested anyone or pulled a car over? He instructed his deputies to do all these illegal activities, and they are merit employees who can be fired for breaking the county rules. But yet he, the elected official who cannot be fired has never himself engaged in the same activities. I guess he is willing to sacrifice his deputies jobs but won’t risk breaking the law himself and possibly get impeached.

  6. Aoine says:

    and Torres was denied gun permit?? nice

    but because he open carries, its legal in Delaware – so NumbNuts hires a decertified police officer….

    who is then denied a gun permit by Superior Court – then gives him a gun and expects him to pull over others and arrest people? and DSP calls this clown for translations??

    he would not make a credibile witness in any court…

    WOW – talk about a walking liability to the tax payers

    Seems the Sheriff has a complete lack of judgement.

  7. anon2 says:

    I applaud Pete Schwartzkopf for standing up against this menace to society and doing what the feckless republican elected officials in Sussex were too scared to do!

    Let’s hope the Legislature passes this bill fast before the Sheriff or one of his Deputies kills an innocent person or G-d forbid a child with their recklessness.

  8. JOAN DEAVER says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the General Assembly.

    The Sussex County Sheriff operates as if he were running a police department and the County budget is not prepared for that. He is also four months behind in his job of serving the Court.

    Because of this we asked the State for a definition of the role of Delaware sheriffs. We now have three Delaware Attorney Generals’ opinions saying that Delaware sheriffs are an of the arm of the court, and have no arrest powers. But the Sussex County Sheriff continues to perform his job as if he were running a police department.

    Then we asked the General Assembly to pass a bill that would clarify the sheriff’s role, but you have not passed it.

    Now you have another bill before you.

    • During this time what is his role? Is the sheriff’s department law enforcement or not? Who will be responsible for damages and lawsuits arising from his actions while we wait for your decision?

    Every day that goes by without an answer leaves the taxpayers at great risk of liability.

    Please forward this email to your colleagues.

    Thank you,
    Councilwoman Joan Deaver

  9. anon says:

    To put Joan Deaver in terms that her right wing opponents can understand: Joan Deaver is the only thing standing between WE THE PEOPLE of Sussex County and the tyranny of Sheriff Jeff Christopher and his biggest fan, Deaver’s opponent Don Ayotte.

  10. Dave says:

    To be complete, the entire Sussex County Council has asked for this bill, including Joan Deaver. Joan is an essential component of that request as she has been essential council person. I am proud that Joan represents my district. Still, she and the other council persons are unanimous on this issue and I would be remiss if I did not credit the others as well.

    Joan truly represents the citizens of her district. She is tireless in that regard and she brings nothing before the council that she has not already collected the sense of the people she represents. For once, I feel I have someone who is a true representative of the people.

    Just sayin’

  11. anon says:

    The other County Council members were either directly involved in the rise and creation of the Sheriff and the Don Ayotte contingency (Vance Phillips, Sam Wilson and their “conservative takeover”) or they were complicit during the whole thing because they were hoping it would keep getting them elected (Cole and Vincent).

  12. Dave says:

    Well there are those who have more intimate knowledge about the council affairs than I. And of course, there is always the re-election motive for all elected officials. Still, they unanimously were doing the right thing. When credit is due, I give it.

  13. SussexWatcher says:

    Christopher came into power durin a great year for the Republicans. He is allied with the same people who are associated with Sam – Bodie and the Georgetown-Bridgeville-Greenwood crowd. Look for Register of Wills Cindy Green to run for something bigger – she’s in tight with them, too. This is a crowd Vance is close to as well. While they served his purpose in 2010 – to get Urquhart elected – they were great. Now it’s clear they are all fucking morons. Vance is smart, for all his wiles, and he knows dumb when he sees it. And above all, he’s a born political strategist at heart. He doesn’t do or say anything without being 10 steps ahead of the other guy on some three-dimensional chess board somewhere. He wants to be in Dover or DC, though plans have changed in the wake of recent circumstances.

    Cole is savvy and smart, too, though he doesn’t do his homework most of the time. Above all, though, he is blessed with a magical name and a district that loves him. He didn’t need teabagger support to win last time around, and probably can’t pick the 9/12 Pata leaders out of a lineup. Vincent is your standard Seaford Republican – calm, steady, a firefighter, deliberate, nice guy. He also is too smart for these games. To say that their silence was tacit support is simply wrong.

  14. MJ says:

    Cindy Green is Sam Wilson’s niece, or something like that. Vincent is a nice guy, and is tired of the shenanigans. St. Bodie Girl is now talking about primarying Wilson, which would be fun to watch. And Vance is a bit different since the accident. He’s mellower, but he is heads above the rest when it comes to politics.

  15. Anon says:


    In reference to Cindy Green, I wonder what would happen if st. Bodie does primary Sam? Since Sam got Mrs. Bodie a good paying county job as Cindy Green’s deputy in the Register of Wills.

    Of course Bodie is against expanding government except when it’s paying his health insurance,or it gives his buddy the sheriff what he wants.

  16. MJ. Happy to see someone, other than me, finally ‘out’ how the job the Mrs. has was obtained and the benefits he’s enjoying from that job as well. If you take the time to look over campaign finances you’ll see donations from the Mrs. as well but they are limited to just a few. So much more when one goes looking…