Sheriff candidate responds to agency’s virus response

News
Towns County Sheriff Election

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – In response to a report on a Tuesday meeting at the Towns County Courthouse called to bring together local leaders at the helm of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, sheriff candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn took aim at the Towns County Sheriff’s Office for not attending the relevant conference.

“Imagine that, a National and State declared health state of emergency and the Towns County Sheriff’s Office does not believe it’s important to attend a vital county Emergency Management briefing on the COVID-19 virus,” Osborn said in part on his campaign page. “There are two candidates for the Office of Sheriff that are employed at the Sheriff’s Office, why did they not attend?”

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, along with the two city mayors and emergency officials from Towns County EMA, EMS, Fire and Rescue, Hiawassee Police Department, and Young Harris Police Department attended the briefing, contributing input on the response measures taking form. Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith publicly noted the absence of the sheriff’s office while explaining what is known on their procedures, and how the city department is adapting to the virus.

Towns County COVID 19

COVID-19 response meeting at the Towns County Courthouse.

The conference, called by the commissioner, was intentionally held in the Towns County courtroom to provide social distancing between attendees.

FYN attempted to contact Towns County Chief Deputy Terry Conner, who was aware of the meeting, on Tuesday afternoon for an explanation as to why Sheriff Chris Clinton or his deputies did not represent the department. Conner replied late Wednesday afternoon, stating that the department would issue a press release on the Towns County Detention Center’s amended daily operations plan. After multiple attempts to learn why the county agency did not attend the meeting, Conner stated that the department was following health advice to avoid group gatherings.

Sheriff candidate Jim Couch, a captain with the sheriff’s office, redirected FYN to his “supervisor” on Tuesday afternoon via text. Challenger and Deputy Lisa Joseph did not respond to a request for comment.

FYN has reported Towns County Sheriff’s Office’s lack of involvement with local emergency agencies in the past,  most notably in connection with school safety. While county and city agencies attending the briefing exchanged plans to confront the potential arrival of COVID-19, providing information for the press to disseminate to the public, the sheriff’s office’s level of involvement remains unclear.

 

Couch’s history surfaces as sheriff’s election heats up

Election, News
Jim Couch - Towns County sheriff electionnews

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – As qualification for the Towns County sheriff’s election approaches, FYN received information on the law enforcement career of Jim Couch, a contender for Office of Sheriff, from separate opponents.

A received document contained a press release from Georgia State Patrol (GSP) Commander Capt. Keith Canup concerning an alleged mishandling of the 2015 Southern Worthersee (SoWo) car rally by former Helen Police Chief Couch. Canup stated that there was “no traffic plan in place, there was no plan to deal with the large crowds, nor was there a contingency plan to deal with civil disorder” despite the city previously hosting the popular event.

According to media coverage, over 2,800 people were “out of control,” breaking vehicle windows and attempting to overturn a rollback tow truck, while hurling rocks and bottles at officers, and committing acts of vandalism. Approximately 28,000 participants were reported as present at the rally.

“Chief Couch was told upfront that the role of GSP would be to make sure the mayhem did not spill out into the surrounding county and the Troopers would not actively patrol the town, or police his streets,” Capt. Canup said, in part, in the press release. “Our goal was to prevent the mountainous roads outside Helen from becoming race tracks, to prevent reckless conduct in general, and to apprehend drunk drivers. I felt that a lawless environment was created and allowed to exist for the sake of tourism. Had the SOWO crowd descended upon Helen uninvited GSP would have gladly taken the lead on maintaining order, but that was simply not the case…

“Had the Georgia State Patrol entered the town we could not have stood idly by and condoned the illegal and reckless activities that were being encouraged without taking enforcement action. We certainly would not have signed off on closing a state highway without the existence of an emergency circumstance warranting such action. I understand the state route was closed by Chief Couch for the purpose of allowing the SOWO cars to do burnouts. State Troopers aren’t wired to allow the law to be broken a little bit. You can’t have the presence of Troopers absence the presence of enforcement. They are one in the same.”

Click to read the full statement from Georgia State Patrol

FYN provided Couch, who hired a Gainesville public relations firm to manage his 2020 sheriff’s campaign, an opportunity to respond to the state law enforcement agency’s assessment of the situation.

“As a law enforcement professional for more than 40 years, my first and foremost priority has always been the safety of the residents of the communities I serve as well as the officers who work with me, whom I have dedicated my life to protecting,” Couch’s statement reads in full. “As anyone in this profession may understand, there are moments when one must calmly and rationally assess a situation and do what is best for the safety of all involved parties in order to keep the peace.

Jim Couch - Towns County sheriff electionnews

Jim Couch (center) with retiring Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton (left) and retiring White County Sheriff Neal Walden at Couch’s Jan. 25 campaign meet-&-greet.

“During my time as the Chief of Police in Helen, there was an occurrence that required me to put my experience in law enforcement to use. Following the 2015 Southern Worthersee event, which is a large annual gathering of car enthusiasts, some number of those gathered became unruly as the night progressed, eventually forcing one road to be closed due to their presence. I assessed the surroundings and the individuals involved and took what I believed to be the best and safest avenue for all involved by making my request for them to disperse and allowing those gathered a short time to comply with this request. As a peace officer, I believed then and still believe that it was my duty to obtain order and minimize any possibility of damage or violence toward businesses, residences or individuals in Helen.

“I believe it takes a calm and level head to maintain peace during a situation of rising tension, and I do not doubt that I did what was right in that situation at the time. I regret any miscommunication that resulted in unwarranted criticism of GSP’s role or the actions of its Troopers. I appreciate all the law enforcement officers and agencies that worked together that night to ensure this situation was handled in a way that best protected our community, its residents and those gathered. It has been and continues to be my privilege to be in a career of service, and I look forward to serving Towns County today and in the days and years to come.”

Participants described the SoWo event – which was prohibited from returning to Helen by city leaders – as chaotic and riotous. “It was a madhouse when we were there during the day,” an attendee wrote on social media shortly after the event. “I am glad we weren’t there at night.”

Couch, who currently serves as a captain with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, resigned from his position as Helen’s police chief two months after the rally took place.

 

Sheriff’s wife blames victim’s brother for fatal crash

News
Crystal Clinton - Towns County sheriff's wife

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The death of Terry Silvers, a Hiawassee resident who was killed in a fatal accident early last year, appears fresh in the minds of many Towns County citizens as the 2020 sheriff’s campaign cycle advances. Mark Silvers, the brother of the famed victim, responded to an announcement of Cpl. Lisa Joseph‘s bid for sheriff, connecting the candidate to her husband, Cpl. Greg Joseph, the Towns County deputy who drew widespread media attention due to his involvement, or lack thereof, in Silvers’ tragic death.

The deadly crash, which many believe could have been prevented by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, left a 911 caller who witnessed the accident emotionally scarred, and a grandmother and grandchild injured.

Click for Terry Silvers’ archives

In response to Mark Silvers’ disapproval of Deputy Lisa Joseph’s candidacy, Crystal Clinton – the wife of retiring Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton – lashed out on FYN’s social media, holding the victim’s grieving brother accountable for Terry Silvers’ demise. “Why didn’t you stop him? YOU are the person responsible for his death,” the sheriff’s wife emphasized. Members of the victim’s family, as well as others, reacted with shock to the elected official wife’s callous remark, telling FYN that the comment caused anguish.

Ms. Clinton caused a similar reaction from Silvers’ family and friends in November, changing her social media profile image to a photograph of the victim, adding that it was meant for those so “concerned.”

Terry Silvers

The sheriff’s wife changed her profile picture to that of Terry Silvers, causing the victim’s family what they described as further grief.

Furthermore, Ms. Clinton referenced a live interview conducted by FYN with Mark Silvers shortly after his brother’s death. During the interview, Silvers stated that while he knew that his brother was in no condition to drive on the evening of his death, and advised him not to leave the residence, his now-deceased brother was defiant. “I figured if I called the law on him, they’d let him go again,” Silvers told FYN last spring, referencing multiple occasions that the sheriff’s office had released his drug-addicted sibling without charges.

Click to hear interview with Mark Silvers

This is not the first time that Sheriff Clinton’s wife has made headlines, however, with Ms. Clinton falsely accusing an appointed official of being a convicted felon last fall, along with defamatory allegations fired at a contender in the sheriff’s race.

Click for Crystal Clinton archive

Furthermore, numerous individuals – some of whom served as officers under Sheriff Clinton’s leadership – have questioned the agenda of two Towns County sheriff deputies who have recently announced candidacy for Office of Sheriff in the 2020 election. While both candidates have received support, others believe that their bid may be an extension of the retiring sheriff’s ruffled reign, with Ms. Clinton’s recent outburst seemingly solidifying the concept in their minds.

On Jan. 13, FYN requested an interview with Towns County Capt. Jim Couch, who announced his bid for sheriff last week. The sheriff’s candidate declined, stating that he did not want to “get in the middle” of unrelated controversy surrounding the highly-contested sheriff’s race at this time. Towns County Cpl. Lisa Joseph has not responded to FYN’s invitation to interview.

Sheriff’s candidate Linda Curtis expressed disapproval over the handling of the Silvers’ case by the agency during a Jan. 7 conversation with FYN, recalling that the Towns County Sheriff’s Office did not accept responsibility for their role in the incident nor alter its policies thereafter. Curtis added that Heather Cassidy Segars – the 911 caller who faced an online attack from Ms. Clinton following the notorious 2019 accident – should be “commended” for her heroic attempt to prevent the fatal collision.

 

FetchYourNews.com attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach. Approximately 15,000 viewers visit FYNTV.com

If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Sheriff Clinton talks retirement: “Politics are a strange beast”

News
Sheriff Chris Clinton Towns County GA

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Days after announcing a decision to no longer seek re-election, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton shared his plans beyond law enforcement on a radio broadcast, Monday, Nov. 25.

Sheriff Clinton announced intent to seek a fourth term as the county’s chief officer on Sept. 19, before the Towns County Republican Party, later retracting the bid via a social media post issued Friday, Nov. 22.

Clinton stated on live radio that it’s “time to move ahead and move forward,” adding that he has never been “much of a politician,” and looks forward to spending time with family post-retirement. Clinton revealed that he plans to share stories – along with a possible screenplay – based on the life of his late grandfather, and intends to release a second album of original songs.

Clinton listed his proudest achievements as acquired state accreditation by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, the success of the annual Empty Stocking Fund, community support for Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, and the CLEA program as highlights of his 12-year career. The sheriff included that he is proud to have restored the “public trust lost in 2007” which led to Clinton taking office through a necessary special election, adding that crime statistics in Towns County have declined in the years that followed.

When asked regrets, Clinton said that the time spent away from his family rated high, and on a professional level, that better pay for officers, and an increase in the number of deputies is needed in the county.

Clinton signed off by stating that he intends to make good use of his final year in office. “We don’t care about politics anymore so be careful,” Clinton warned with a laugh, adding on a later broadcast that he intends to weigh-in on the upcoming election as the season advances. “I know what’s under the hood with these folks…,” Clinton said, predicting additional candidates may enter the race. “Politics are a strange beast.”

Archived articles on the subjects mentioned above can be found by clicking on the highlighted links.

Additional archives related to Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton are available here.

Follow FYN for current coverage as the 2020 election cycle continues.

 

 

 

 

Clinton drops out of 2020 sheriff’s race

News
Sheriff Chris Clinton

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – In an unexpected turn of events, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton announced on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, Nov. 22, that he will no longer seek re-election in the 2020 sheriff’s race. Clinton’s announcement follows in its entirety.

“Sometimes, we get so busy doing things that others want us to do that we forget to listen to that still, small voice that should guide the faithful along,” Clinton wrote. “Crystal and I seem to be better at serving others than we are at taking care of our own health. I am humbled at the faith so many have in me, but I also feel the time has come for my family to move on to another chapter in our lives and I will no longer be seeking re-election as sheriff.

“I will always be thankful for some of the lasting friendships I have made – so many people I would have never met that have worked so hard to do so much for others. I will always cherish those memories and am a better man for the experience. There are some truly wonderful people in this area. I am honored to have gotten to know so many of them.

“The past three years have been especially difficult for my family. After taking care of my grandfather for the last two years of his life, we suddenly lost him and our friend and band mate in January, as well as two other family friends, all within about a month. Life is short and precious. The weight of it all has taken a toll on my health and my family’s well-being. While the community can find another to serve as sheriff, my wife and children only have me and it is time that I return to being just a husband and dad. It is time for our family to seek the things God has left for us to accomplish. One thing Crystal and I have left to do is raise a little boy and we would like to do that without the distraction of politics and all that comes with it.

“I am thankful for those who have placed their trust in me all these years. I am thankful for the superb staff at the sheriff’s office and for all of our volunteers who serve in so many ways. I intend to continue to offer Citizen Law Enforcement Academy courses in the coming year in the hope that the program will continue. We are beginning another effort to provide Christmas gifts for Towns County’s less fortunate children through the Towns County Sheriff’s Empty Stocking Fund and I hope I can count on all of you to continue to support these children again this year.

“I look forward to 2020 being the best of the thirteen years entrusted to me as Sheriff of Towns County and pray God’s continued blessings on our community.”

Follow FYN for additional information as it becomes available.

Sheriff’s wife publicly names challenging candidate as rumor source

News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Words can lead to dire consequences, and that may prove to be the case for Crystal Clinton, wife of Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton. In response to a social media post dated Oct. 20, Ms. Clinton fired online allegations at 2020 sheriff’s challenger Daren “Bear” Osborn, accusing the candidate of starting a pervasive rumor that Sheriff Clinton sought treatment for drug addiction. Ms. Clinton publicly claimed that she learned the source of the widespread rumor through an estranged relative who supervises Osborn’s law enforcement division in a neighboring county.

FetchYourNews (FYN) met with Osborn and his supervisor Nov. 1, both of whom adamantly denied Ms. Clinton’s allegations. “I did not start the rumor,” Osborn asserted. Osborn’s supervisor explained that she, like many in the community, heard talk of the sheriff’s alleged stint at a rehabilitation facility long before the topic was broached by Osborn, and attempted to learn firsthand whether the hearsay held weight through the Clinton clan.

FYN followed a similar course of action in late February, offering Sheriff Clinton an opportunity to address the rampant rumor of addiction after inquiries on his whereabouts poured into FYN from dozens of concerned citizens. Sheriff Clinton ceased communication with FYN at that time.

Crystal Clinton

A controversial screenshot posted to the Facebook group, “Make Towns County Great Again, vote out Chris Clinton.”

The sheriff’s spouse continued on in reference to Towns County’s “safety officer,” Emergency Management Agency-Homeland Security Director Brandon Walls, publicly alleging that the appointed official is a “convicted felon” and insinuating that Walls should not be trusted to hold the county position. “The only statement I will make at this time is that her accusation is false,” Walls said.

Developments are expected as a result of what the parties involved consider defamation.

Ms. Clinton did not respond to FYN’s request for comment, issued via email through Sheriff Clinton, prior to publication.

 

FetchYourNews.com attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach, and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com

If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

Bipartisan support apparent as Osborn launches sheriff’s campaign

Opinion
Osborn vs Clinton

EDITORIAL – Daren “Bear” Osborn officially launched his campaign Oct. 11, challenging Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton in the 2020 sheriff’s election, and immediate support for the opposition candidate is proving widespread. The social media response to the veteran law enforcement officer’s announcement has revealed an outpouring of mixed approval from known Republican and Democratic constituents.

Daren Bear Osborn

Daren “Bear” Osborn

Over the weekend, several hundred supporters from both sides of the political aisle favorably reacted, commented, and eagerly shared the news of Osborn’s entry into the now-contested election through social media. Remarks ranging from simple “congratulations” to overt endorsements calling for a change in leadership have surfaced in response to the publicized announcement. When asked by FYN about the outreach of bipartisan support, Osborn said that he devoted himself to a “person to person” approach prior to Friday’s formal declaration of candidacy. “You get more honest results that way,” Osborn confided.

Osborn, who challenged Clinton via the Democratic ticket in the 2012 general election, intends to campaign and run as a Republican candidate in the May 2020 primary. Osborn explained that while he has always identified as a conservative, the views of the present-day Democratic Party have shifted significantly from his moral stance, prompting his political affiliation transition.  The sheriff’s candidate was chosen as a Towns County Republican Party district delegate for the Macedonia precinct in March 2019.

Osborn’s platform, in part, includes plans to serve Towns County as a working sheriff. “Our community deserves a working sheriff that is dedicated, fair, and will ensure quality law enforcement for Towns County citizens and visitors alike,” Osborn stated on Friday.

Osborn – a Towns County native who has served in law enforcement for 33 years – has been employed as a sheriff’s deputy and criminal investigator in neighboring Union County since 2013.

Osborn is the sole challenger in the Towns County sheriff’s race at this time. According to the Towns County Board of Elections, the earliest date to qualify for candidacy is March 2, 2020.

Related Archive:

Clinton receives unfavorable response to campaign announcement

FetchYourNews.com attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach, and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com

If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Young Harris College police chief joins sheriff’s race

News
Ken Henderson - sheriff's candidate

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Kenneth “Ode” Henderson has officially announced intent to run on the Republican ticket in the 2020 Towns County sheriff’s election.

“I will be running in the Republican primary,” Henderson stated on social media. “I have over 35 years in law enforcement and currently serve as the chief at Young Harris College and serve as a police officer for the city of McCayesville, GA. I have also worked for Towns County Sheriff’s Office, under previous administration, and Union County Sheriff’s Office at various times throughout my career. I look forward to sharing more about my qualifications with you in the future as I work to earn your support.”

Henderson joins challenger Daren “Bear” Osborn in the race against incumbent Sheriff Chris Clinton.

Image released by candidate

 

Towns County Sheriff Clinton defends violation of U.S. Constitution

News
Sheriff Clinton - Constitutional violation

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A week has passed since a local reporter was denied entry to a meeting held at a government facility, and while the Towns County Republican Party and guest speaker, Chris Gaubatz, have extended apologies concerning the unconstitutional ban, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton has defiantly defended his role in the civil rights violation.

Clinton, who takes to the air waves of a Union County-based radio station each weekday morning, was questioned about the highly controversial incident by the broadcast’s host Oct. 3. The sheriff divulged on live radio that he had, in fact, conversed with Gaubatz immediately prior to the ban and agreed that the reporter, Robin Webb, was justly targeted to prevent potential “bad press” within the conservative activism workshop.

Gaubatz later stated that his snap reaction stemmed from misleading information, presumably supplied by the sheriff, and expressed earnest regret over the handling of the situation. Towns County GOP Chairwoman Betsy Young, who did not attend the meeting, called the ban “not acceptable.”

Webb – whose regular beat includes local political coverage – held reservations for seating at the public event, accepted by the Towns County Republican Party.

Furthermore, Webb reported on Gaubatz last March without incident.  Click to read archive

Fetch Your News

Towns County GOP Vice Chair John Alger (left) en route with news of the media ban. Also pictured: Sheriff Chris Clinton (center) with Chris Gaubatz (right)

 

“Denying access was deliberate suppression of Freedom of Press set forth by an elected official sworn to uphold the Constitution,” Webb stated in reference to the sheriff’s participation in the ordeal.

True to form, Clinton attempted to portray the county reporter as a hostile, left-wing member of the media on the morning show. “We live in a country where the rules no longer apply to the Progressives…,” Clinton said in apparent support of the illicit ban, going on to talk about insurrection in Washington by the “Left.”

Civil rights’ attorneys have taken a keen interest in the unconstitutional act, calling the violation nothing short of illegal.

Towns County Attorney Robb Kiker issued a formal statement Oct. 2 on behalf of Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, whom Kiker described as “prudent in protecting the integrity of the office.” Commissioner Bradshaw was not present at the event when the incident occurred, later learning details of the situation through third-party accounts.

“I understand Mr. Bradshaw personally expressed disappointment in the handling of the matter,” Attorney Kiker said. “This is characteristic of Mr. Bradshaw because I have always found him to be a strong supporter of the Constitution and, particular to this matter, the freedom of speech.”

Georgia laws requiring a transparent government were additionally called into question by Sheriff Clinton Oct. 3.  “It’s staggering the amount of taxpayer time and resources the ‘fake news’ wastes with open records requests about nonsense. It’s stalking,” Clinton, who frequently describes investigative media as “threatening,” claimed.

Sheriff Chris Clinton

Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton (left) with Chris Gaubatz at the time of the unconstitutional offense.

Open record requests filed by FYN in the past have revealed unsettling revelations, such as disproving troubling “facts” dispersed to the citizens by the sheriff himself and exposing the limited amount of time that Clinton has devoted to elected duty.

FYN submitted a request Oct. 2 to review the lead lawman’s cellular log on the evening that the media blackout occurred, a point that was negatively noted by the sheriff on-air. FYN expects to receive the legally-requested information from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office in coming days.

 

CAIR director, county attorney weigh in on controversial media ban

News
Sheriff Chris Clinton

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Georgia Executive Director  Edward Ahmed Mitchell contacted FetchYourNews (FYN) Oct. 2, regarding a controversial incident occuring in Towns County last Thursday. Mitchell voiced staunch criticism toward a media ban initiated at an event sponsored by the Towns County Republican Party at the Towns County Civic Center. FYN previously reported denied entry into the “conservation activism workshop” featuring national security consultant Chris Gaubatz. Mitchell boldly described Gaubatz in the phone conversation as an “expert in anti-Islam.”

Mitchell, a former criminal prosecutor and journalist, chided that prohibiting media access was an illicit act due to the fact that the meeting was held at a government facility. Mitchell stated that he was “not surprised” that the incident had occurred, describing Gaubatz as “paranoid” and “not willing to be criticized.” What has caused greater concern, Mitchell said, was that Gaubatz’s decision to thwart media coverage was conducted “in partnership with the sheriff.”

Fetch Your News

Towns GOP 1st Chair John Alger returning the Towns County Homeland Security deputy’s identification when asked to leave the public facility. Also pictured: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton (center) with Chris Gaubatz (right)

Gaubatz later extended an apology to FYN for prohibiting access to the “not super secret” meeting. Gaubatz explained that the decision to prevent entry was based on misleading information, presumably gained from Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, who was witnessed engaged in conversation with Gaubatz at the time that FYN was asked to leave.

The news was delivered to the political reporter by Towns County GOP 1st Vice Chair John Alger who falsely termed the meeting an “executive session.” Alger was reported by a law enforcement officer inside of the meeting as making light of the situation with Sheriff Clinton, repeating the phrase “executive session” as the reason given for denial. The issue has left local conservatives calling for Alger’s resignation as a Republican officer. Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young, who has voiced apologetic disapproval, stated that an executive board meeting will likely take place in the near future.

Based on information gathered from sources, FYN’s reporter defines the incident as “deliberate suppression of freedom of the press set forth by an elected official sworn to uphold the Constitution.”

CAIR Georgia is expected to issue an official statement on Gaubatz and the controversial incident, adding that the organization intends to contact the Towns County Republican Party and Towns County Sheriff’s Office concerning the matter.

Furthermore, a Towns County Emergency Management/Homeland Security deputy director who accompanied the reporter to the event was prevented from attending, despite reservations and official credentials presented to the speaker and the sheriff. The matter is under investigation by Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) at this time.

Sheriff Chris Clinton

Sheriff Chris Clinton with Chris Gaubatz at the Towns County Civic Center.

Towns County Attorney Robb Kiker issued a formal statement on behalf of Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, whom Kiker described as “prudent in protecting the integrity of the office.” Commissioner Bradshaw was not present at the event when the incident occurred, later learning details of the situation through third-party accounts.

“I understand Mr. Bradshaw personally expressed disappointment in the handling of the matter,” Attorney Kiker said. “This is characteristic of Mr. Bradshaw because I have always found him to be a strong supporter of the Constitution and, particular to this matter, the freedom of speech.”

Towns County Republican Chair Betsy Young, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, and Security Consultant Chris Gaubatz did not respond to FYN’s invitation to comment on recent developments.

 

 

FYN archive: Chris Gaubatz event, March 2019:

Security consultant warns of merge between Progressive Left and Jihadi movement

 

Towns County GOP, security speaker apologize for media ban

News
Sheriff Chris Clinton

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) reported on social media Thursday evening that FYN’s entry into an event sponsored by the Towns County Republican Party was denied. Chris Gaubatz, an Islamic expert and author of “Muslim Mafia,” was the scheduled speaker. Gaubatz is a national security consultant whom FYN reported on in March without incident.

Click for archive

The topic of the Sept. 26 discussion was “conservative activism” with morning and evening workshops planned. The speaking engagement was held at the Towns County Civic Center, a government-owned facility with meeting space offered to the county’s dual political parties without charge. A $10 per person reservation fee was requested for the popular event, with attendance secured the week prior for FYN’s reporter and a guest.

Chriz Gaubatz

A sign announcing the meeting at the Towns County Civic Center.

The meeting, however, did not proceed as expected.

FYN’s reporter was advised soon after arrival by Towns County 1st Vice Chairman, John Alger, that FYN’s attendance was no longer welcome at the event, purported as relayed by speaker Gaubatz. Gaubatz was witnessed in conversation with Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton outside of the public building immediately prior to notification and throughout the ordeal. Alger, who claimed that he was “just the messenger,” falsely deemed the function an “executive session” to FYN. An executive session is a term for a time block within an otherwise open meeting in which minutes are taken separately, outsiders are not permitted, and the contents of the discussion are treated as confidential.

In addition to the media ban, FYN’s guest – a Towns County Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security deputy – was also denied entry after creditials were presented through Alger. The issue was promptly forwarded by the county official to local and state authorities for appropiate review.

Fetch Your News

Towns GOP 1st Chair John Alger returning a Towns County Homeland Security deputy’s identification after the official was refused entry. Also pictured: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton (center) with Chris Gaubatz (right)

Towns County Republican Chairwoman Betsy Young, who did not attend the workshop, extended an earnest apology to FYN the following day. Young stated that the handling of the matter was “not acceptable.” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, who arrived at the civic center after the meeting began, additionally expressed disapproval.

Furthermore, Gaubatz contacted FYN’s reporter Monday, Sept. 30, offering sincere amends for the situation. Gaubatz relayed that while the decision was ultimately his, he did not understand the situation correctly, presumably based off questionable information received from Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton. “You being there would have been fine,” Gaubatz said in part. “I feel terrible…Looking back, I should have talked to you.” Gaubatz, who resides in Virginia, added that he hopes to personally meet with FYN’s reporter and the Homeland Security official when he returns to Towns County.

The incident has left local Republicans calling for GOP 1st Chair John Alger’s resignation due to his involvement in the situation.

Feature Image: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton (left) with speaker Chris Gaubatz before the Republican-sponsored event.

 

FYN Archive:

Security consultant warns of merge between Progressive Left and Jihadi movement

Sheriff’s father publicly addresses rumors of drug rehab

News
sheriff rehab rumors

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton joined the Mountain Movers and Shakers Friday, Sept. 27, as the group’s featured speaker. Clinton, who officially announced a 2020 bid for re-election last week, launched his campaign by speaking on several topics. The sheriff spoke highly of his department, frequently contrasting the prior administration’s history which led to Clinton’s special election to office in 2007.

Following Clinton’s address, Michael Clinton – the sheriff’s father – publicly delivered an unprompted statement denying pervasive rumors that the elected official has attended treatment for drug addiction.

Michael Clinton asserted that the sheriff’s policies are not objectionable, comparing the opposition to that of President Trump’s, therefore critics have resorted to personal attacks.

“It’s lies. I can’t stand people just going around telling lies about people,” Michael Clinton told the sizeable crowd. “So anyways, when you hear this stuff, know what it is. They can’t attack what he’s doing, but that before and after thing, if you had before and after pictures, I tell you what, they’d be x-rated. Back in Towns County, it was always rut season in Towns County, especially in the sheriff’s office, and there’s a big difference, and you a made a big change.”

Rutting season is a time in the fall when deer mate. Sheriff Clinton interrupted to add that he has heard of deputies, under the previous administration, bragging about “rut season” to other agencies.

“Your personal life is your business, but if your personal life ever embarrasses the sheriff’s office, you’re fired,” Michael Clinton said. “And (my son’s) Christian character is above reproach, so if y’all hear this junk, don’t listen to it. So if you really want to hear what it is, come and ask me when you see me at Ingles or whatever, but be prepared to tell me who told you it.”

Beyond agreement with the “rut season” remark, Sheriff Clinton did not dispute nor affirm his father’s statement.

Following dozens of inquiries from concerned citizens, FetchYourNews offered Sheriff Clinton an opportunity in February to suppress the widespread rumors of drug rehabilitation in an effort to dispel hearsay.

Clinton declined to address the prevalent issue, opting to permanently cease communication with the news network.

Feature Image: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, speaking to the Mountain Movers and Shakers, Sept. 27, 2019.

 

Fetch Your News is a now news network that covers Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Rabun, and Murray counties in northern Georgia, as well as Cherokee and Clay counties in western North Carolina.  

Fetch Your News attracts over 300,000 page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month, and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com with an up to 60,000 Facebook page reach.

If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Clinton receives unfavorable response to campaign announcement

Opinion
sheriff

EDITORIAL – Mountain Movers and Shakers announced Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton will be their featured speaker at the group’s weekly meeting, Sept. 27. The agenda follows the sheriff’s proclamation before the Towns County Republican Party last week, stating intent to seek re-election in 2020.

If the public’s initial response to the elected official’s announcement is any indication of an approval rating, Clinton’s campaign could prove to be a challenge.

“Perhaps (Sheriff Clinton) will fill us in on the events and expected traffic for the next few months,” Mark Wolchko, a spokesman for Mountain Movers and Shakers, predicted in a press release. “Maybe he will enlighten us about the latest CLEA class. Possibly he will let us know about equipment upgrades in the sheriff’s department. Or maybe he will give us the lowdown on the next appearance of The Chris Clinton Band.”

CLEA, an acronym for the Citizen Law Enforcement Academy, consists primarily of “move-in” retirees whom Sheriff Clinton has referred to as personal “lobbyists” in the past. The group additionally serves as charity fund raisers and security staff at local events, such as concerts at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.

The majority of Mountain Movers and Shakers’ active participants are CLEA alumni.

Sheriff Clinton shined a spotlight on CLEA during his GOP campaign announcement Thursday evening at the Towns County Civic Center.

“How many folks here have been through CLEA? Do you mind raising your hands? Every group I go to in the county, everywhere we go, I got people sitting in the group that’s been through the citizen law enforcement academy,” Clinton said. “These volunteers, by the end of the year, we hit about 2,000 hours, or about what would amount to me having to ask our commissioner for the $51,000, if we were going to do it ourselves, is being done by volunteers because we have men and women who believe in what we’re doing at the sheriff’s office.”

Should Clinton choose to promote his band at Friday’s meeting, however, citizen feedback could prove less than favorable.

sheriff

Sheriff Clinton performing on town square in July 2018.

Widespread disapproval of The Chris Clinton Band’s schedule was brought to FetchYourNews’ attention in relation to the 2017 “Great American Eclipse,” an event that was anticipated by Clinton to draw thousands of solar enthusiasts to the Towns County area. Sheriff Clinton, who performs with his wife in the now two-man band, opted to host a concert at a local establishment during the highly publicized event. Members of the Towns County Homeowners’ Association – since renamed the Towns County Civic Association – along with numerous first responders, voiced stern criticism toward Clinton’s priorities.

Chris Clinton - Sheriff

Promotion for the Chris Clinton Band’s 2017 eclipse event.

Scrutiny later emerged in July 2018, following a band performance that corresponded with a deputy missing in action, along with a county inmate, during a wilderness search for alleged human remains near Brasstown Bald.

Public comments concerning the Clintons’ “small business” and the sheriff’s elected performance continue to appear on social media in response to the official’s recent bid for re-election.

Click to read comments and view reactions on original post.

While no contenders for the Office of the Sheriff have entered the race at this time, challengers are expected to announce candidacy in coming weeks.

Sheriff Clinton is scheduled to address Mountain Movers and Shakers this Friday at 8 a.m. at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee.

Meetings are open to the public.

Sheriff Clinton Archives

Feature Image: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton draws tickets for door prizes at Thursday’s GOP meeting.

Clinton announces 2020 re-election bid for sheriff

News
Clinton

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton made an appearance at the Thursday, Sept. 19, Towns County Republican Party meeting to publicly announce his intent to seek re-election in 2020.

“I am absolutely seeking your vote, your support, for my campaign in 2020,” Clinton said. “I plan to run for sheriff of Towns County again, and I’m going to be running based on my track record because I think our track record at the sheriff’s office is really second to none, certainly in the history of this county. I think the truth speaks for itself.”

Clinton was elected in 2007 following a special election. No challengers have officially announced candidacy for Office of the Sheriff at this time.

Related Archives

 

FetchYourNews attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month, and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com with a 60,000 Facebook page reach.

If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Sheriff Clinton compares jail discipline to Marine Corps protocol

News
Sheriff Clinton

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton took to the WJUL radio airways Friday, Sept. 13 to share his favorable views on California’s legislation to ban private prisons. Sheriff Clinton included information on discipline requirements for inmates detained at the Towns County Detention Center.

Sheriff Clinton

Sheriff Chris Clinton

“When you walk back into one of our pods, the inmates snap to attention,” Clinton said. “They announce attention on deck. It’s like a Marine Corps parade deck. Head and eyes straight forward, thumbs on the side, on the seam of their trousers. They’re not allowed to follow you with their eyes, first and last things out of their mouth better be sir or ma’am. And we do that for a reason. It’s a security thing. Inmates fight when they’re scared. As our jail commander likes to tell folks when we bring them through a tour of our jail, they don’t fight in our jail because in our jail, an inmate would have to ask permission to fight first, and we’re not going to give it to them so they don’t just even bother.”

Towns County’s sheriff additionally voiced support for California’s recent bill to abolish private prison facilities, which if signed as expected by California Governor Gavin Newsom, will prohibit the state government from entering into or renewing contracts with private, for-profit prisons to incarcerate state inmates.

“The way the Constitution works, when you’re housing an inmate – like the sheriff, if I house that inmate somewhere else – I’m still responsible for that inmate, and so I’m not a fan of turning the responsibility of the inmate over to some private sector that has no duty. The sheriff has a duty to keep these inmates safe. I just don’t think it’s good,” Clinton said.

According to research, The Georgia Department of Corrections holds current contracts with two private prison companies: Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Corporation. The facilities are contracted to house a total of 7,974 offenders in four private facilities.

 

Feature Image: Towns County Detention Center

 

Towns County Sheriff, SROs no-shows at school security training

News
GASRO

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – The 2019 Georgia Association of School Resource Officers (GASRO) conference was held at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, July 8-10, purposed to provide updated school security training and networking opportunities for school resource officers (SROs) to connect statewide.

Law enforcement officers from cities as far south as Tifton made the voyage to Towns County to attend the school safety seminar, hosted this year by Habersham County Sheriff’s Office who was chosen by GASRO as the result of “the incredible strides (they) have made in connecting with the school community, and in enhancing school safety through technology.”

Following the closure of the school security conference, FetchYourNews (FYN) was contacted by multiple law enforcement agencies who disclosed that Towns County Sheriff’s Office had declined additional training “in their own backyard.” Research revealed that Towns County Sheriff’s Office was, in fact, signed up to attend the state seminar, although no officers attended. Furthermore, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton was personally invited by GASRO to address participants, and in the words of a ranking officer, “refused the chance to network with other departments while representing his own jurisdiction.”

FYN reached out to Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, along with personnel within the agency, offering an opportunity to comment on the matter. FYN did not receive a response from the elected official. Towns County Chief Deputy Terry Conner met with FYN, however, stating that Towns County’s dual school resource officers had attended a training session in White County earlier this year, and due to staffing issues, an executive decision was made to forego the GASRO course.

Chief Deputy Conner politely declined to respond to FYN’s questions concerning Sheriff Clinton’s absence from the school security conference.

FYN received a formal statement from the chief deputy the following day.

“During the last six months, (both SROs) have completed a total of 40 training classes between the two. The State Of Georgia Peace Officer Standards Training requires officers to complete 20 hours of annual training yearly,” Chief Deputy Conner said. “Both Towns County school resource officers completed double the state required training hours during the first six months of this year. The State of Georgia Peace Officer Standards Training requires the 20 hours to include four classes; firearms requalification, use of force, de-escalation, and community policing.”

The statement read that one of the school resources officers has completed four-out-of-four of the required courses, with the second officer to complete the final two requirements in coming months. The chief deputy added that Towns County Sheriff’s Office allows officers to attend training as budget and manpower needs allow, adding that both deputies will receive the required training by year’s end.

“School Resource Officer Programs across the state are experiencing many new challenges when it comes to keeping schools safe,” Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell, host of the GASRO conference, explained to Now Habersham in May. “Whether it be dealing with issues that have been in the schools for years or new trends that are becoming more commonplace, it is imperative that we stay up to date on the latest technologies and training.”

The three-day course involved advancement in vital areas, including criminal investigations in campus settings, evaluation of threat assestments, students and social media, and drug interdiction.

 

Feature Photo: GASRO training at Brasstown Valley Resort Credit: GASRO

 

Related Archives

 

 

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!