Keith Duda is a good man with a wonderful family. He supported me during my campaign, courageously doing so openly and publicly despite the constant threat of political retaliation by his boss, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.
During the course of my USAF career I had the pleasure of commanding men and women just like Keith. They don’t come along often, but when they do, they are absolute treasures and the kind of troop I took tremendous pride in mentoring. I know instinctively a great leader when I see one. Keith is one. My biggest regret is that I won’t be able to develop him and so many other fine men and women at EPSO into the superb leaders I know they can be.
That Duda now finds himself without a job for simply exercising his First Amendment right to free speech, as well as his Twenty-Sixth Amendment right to vote is not surprising considering the rampant corruption in the sheriff’s office and in this county.
Sergeant Duda’s retaliatory termination should be a wake-up call to the citizens of El Paso County. The corruption must end. Now.
At no time during my contact with Keith Duda in the last nine months of this campaign did I ever suspect he had engaged in political activity while on duty. Quite to the contrary, we had many discussions about his support and I would always caution him to be careful because Elder and his sycophants were looking for any indication of just that. He was always mindful of such possibilities and steered clear of anything even approaching campaign activity at work.
But what do corrupt people do when they cannot find actual evidence to support their pre-determined outcome? Why, they fabricate it, of course.
Case in point: the three critical incidents for which he allegedly failed to respond in a timely manner. Keith told me he:
- Never knew he stood accused of any wrongdoing over those incidents.
- Never was verbally counseled.
- Never was given a written reprimand.
- Never was sent to remedial training.
- Never was coached nor mentored to improve because of them.
- And nothing was ever placed in his performance reports about them.
You know, things real leaders do to help a troop grow and improve.
The first time he heard about any concerns over these incidents was when he was terminated for them.
It’s a classic case of ex post facto allegation, going back in time and weaving a false narrative around events that always were – and still are — uneventful.
I have also seen the allegations that Duda engaged in political activity while on duty. They are as silly and made up as the critical incident charge. One of them goes like this:
- Duda once had an officer safety discussion with a fellow law enforcement officer (and known Elder supporter).
- During the discussion, Duda mentioned extra caution due to increased drug cartel activity in the county.
- Mike Angley has included cartel concerns in his campaign platform.
- Therefore, the officer safety discussion was deemed political speech, despite having no reference to me, the race, or politics at all.
To give the witch hunt a whiff of gravitas, County Attorney Amy Folsom took the unprecedented action of hiring an outside investigator (at taxpayer expense, of course). The objective was to give the phony appearance of impartiality in investigating Duda, despite Elder’s decision to fire Duda long before the investigation began.
But even before that investigation was complete, Duda was served with a termination letter dated the day before his final interview. That premature act alone exposed the smoke and mirrors purpose of the sham outside investigation and laid bare even more county corruption, this time with Folsom’s fingerprints on it.
One would think that with nine months to hatch his plot that he’d do a better job at manufacturing evidence, but when corrupt people have gotten away with their corruption for so long, being careful and clever doesn’t seem to be a priority.
Allow me to wax Godfather-like for a moment. The infamous Elder Expectations Memo that reads like a Stalin missive right before a purge was the written warning to EPSO employees to get on board Elder’s crazy train of corruption. Keith Duda’s firing was the horse’s head in the bed of every employee, just in case they didn’t quite understand the memo.
How About ACTUAL Politicking on the Taxpayer’s Dime?
Let’s talk about real campaigning on the job. I am well aware of campaign strategy sessions held in Elder’s office between Elder, a paid political consultant, and Elder’s Campaign Manager.
I submitted a CORA request for information about such meetings. Jaqueline Kirby responded and denied any ever took place. That lie was a huge miscalculation (and a misdemeanor).
Or how about this exchange. A citizen expressed concern over Elder’s reelection in light of the corruption alleged on the website www.DirtyElder.com. In response, Elder invited the individual to call his government phone number, speak to his taxpayer-paid secretary, and come visit his county-owned office. All for the apparent purpose of changing this man’s mind about voting for Elder.
Elder actually campaigned on the job — did what he fired Duda for allegedly doing — even though Duda never did what he was fired for. Wrap your mind around that and welcome to the world of left-wing corruption, duplicity and doublespeak. Will Folsom now hire an outside agency to investigate Elder’s campaigning on the job…?
Federal Civil Rights Violations?
But hey, Elder’s a conservative who loves the Constitution, right?
Not so fast. People who respect the Constitution cherish most of all the Bill of Rights. The 1st Amendment guarantees many things, among which is free speech. I’ve read the Federalist Papers, and it’s clear from them that our Founding Fathers intended for political speech to be the most sacred speech the First Amendment was designed to protect.
Keith Duda never engaged in political speech while on duty, but he most certainly did while off duty. That speech was protected by the Constitution and firing him for freely exercising that speech is a federal civil rights violation.
Keith Duda exercised his right to vote under the 26th Amendment. He did so in secret, and while we may assume he voted for me, it doesn’t matter. Elder’s firing him for his presumed vote for me is yet another federal civil rights violation.
El Paso County Board of Commissioners is AWOL
When will the Board of County Commissioners dust off their oath to the Constitution and do the right thing?
- They seemingly look the other way when Elder abuses the taxpayers’ trust and fails to comply with mandated public accountability and transparency of money, particularly the Public Safety Tax (PST).
- They seem unfazed with double-digit attrition that threatens the very survival of EPSO.
- They write checks for multiple lawsuits and settlements for avoidable messes Elder continually drags the taxpayers into – like his bungling of immigrant detentions and the ACLU class action suit — and one wonders if they even bat an eye.
- They watch as tons of taxpayer money enters the sheriff’s coffers — ostensibly to plus up manpower – but instead see personnel decline so precipitately it is alarming. Patrol and jail manning are at critically LOW levels, severely imperiling public safety. How can that be when there’s so much taxpayer generosity poured into the county?
And these are merely the tip of a massively corrupt iceberg. The Commissioners’ reputations and credibility are just as much wrapped up in this mess as Elder’s. To do nothing about known corruption makes them as culpable in that corruption as the Sheriff and the County Attorney.
Four of the Commissioners are fellow retired Air Force officers, like me. Shame on them for abandoning their oaths and the Core Values we all once shared: Integrity, Service Before Self, and Excellence.
I have never forgotten that code.
It’s this kind of nonsense that I just outlined above that boils the blood of the true conservative base of the Republican Party.
- Corrupt government officials.
- Public servants who no longer serve but act instead like entitled royalty.
- Elected officials who refuse to hold each other accountable, failing the check-and-balance-of-power test.
You get the picture.
This sort of establishment RINO business-as-usual approach to governing angers us all. And we’re done with it. I am in the initial stages of building a coalition to tear it all down and build it back up.
We must begin to dismantle the death grip network of establishment Republicans (Democrats with an R next to their name) that have turned local government into a playground for corruption and political career advancement.
We’ll expose and drive out of office corrupt public officials. Never again should someone as honest, honorable and hard-working as Keith Duda ever face retaliation or termination simply for exercising his Constitutional rights.
We will return power back to the citizens and put in office genuine conservatives, real Republicans, and Reagan Constitutionalists who will govern on our behalf and not cynically tax and spend us into oblivion.
Contact me for details and to join the movement: firstname.lastname@example.org