FLORENCE — The Pinal County Board of Supervisors heard from five speakers Wednesday who said Sheriff Mark Lamb’s politics are affecting his job.
Ralph Atchue of Eloy said Lamb “is crossing a line that we consider to be dangerous. … Due to his extreme right-wing activism, Sheriff Lamb has directly put those of us who disagree with him on notice. He does not represent us, and we fear that he will fail to uphold his oath of office to serve and protect us.
“Sheriff Lamb has publicly aligned himself with radical conspiracies such as anti-vaccinations, ‘Big Lie’ and ‘Stop the Steal.’ His voiced support for the Jan. 6 rioters encouraged the formation of militia groups, similar to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, now known to have organized and participated in the violent storming of our Capitol.
“He’s affiliated with Protect America Now and similar organizations that lobby for a more militarized police force and the building of an army to fight against our democratically elected government,” Atchue continued.
Lamb and other so-called “constitutional sheriffs” see themselves as America’s supreme legal authority, placing themselves above the president and Supreme Court, Atchue said.
“When the elected sheriff demonstrates that he is no longer to be trusted to uphold his oath of office, it’s time for this board to investigate and take action. The citizens of Pinal County deserve and should expect nothing less.”
Margaret Baca of Casa Grande said Lamb has formed and participates in groups such as Protect America Now and True the Vote. “My question to Sheriff Lamb is ‘Protect America, and more specifically Pinal County, from what?’” She said it appears Lamb is looking for a solution to a nonexistent problem.
“We can run around with our hair on fire crying election fraud with absolutely no proof, or we can work to follow our Constitution and rule of law,” Baca said. “We don’t need an armed militia intimidating voters at election sites.”
Noel Reck of Casa Grande said Lamb and the founder of True the Vote claim their efforts are nonpartisan and are only to protect the rule of law. But a visit to the website shows it’s really “an extension of the ‘Stop the Steal,’ ‘Big Lie,’ Trump-won movement.”
True the Vote says it will provide sheriffs with resources to ensure accurate elections. “I ask, why do we need an outside extremist group to provide this? We don’t,” Reck said. “What exactly are they talking about providing? We don’t know that, but I have a pretty good idea.
“This outside interference helps explain why some elections officials and poll workers are leaving their positions, many afraid for their lives,” Reck said.
Lamb did not respond to those at the meeting and did not immediately comment to PinalCentral.
Tom Bean of Casa Grande and Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon commented on their recent direct contacts with the sheriff.
Bean said “call to the public” at board meetings is for anyone who’s not an elected official. But Lamb spoke in June, “and then started screaming, yelling and walking toward me, out of control, not speaking to the board. … That should have been stopped immediately. Somebody should have banged a gavel and told him ‘You’re out of order.’”
Bean said Lamb had no right to interfere with his freedom of speech. “He didn’t like what I said; that’s fine. But he had no business telling me to retract what I said, to return to this dais and apologize. … He tried to rob me of my freedom of speech, my freedom to address the board and to do it correctly. And he did nothing correctly,” Bean said, adding he hopes the U.S. Justice Department will investigate.
Reveles said that at a previous meeting, Lamb walked up to him, pointed at him and said, “You and your fellow Democrats are destroying our country.” But Reveles said it’s neither Democrats nor “truthful Republicans” who are doing this.
“It is people who take advantage of fearmongering and ‘The Big Lie.’” Reveles renewed his plea for financial and performance reviews of the Sheriff’s Office and Elections Department.
Susan Wortman of Casa Grande, whose late husband was a sheriff’s posse member, said in her opinion the current sheriff has politicized his job too far and seems to be selective in the laws he’s enforcing.
In other comments, two San Tan Valley residents addressed the board about the lack of playing fields for youth sports in their community. Supervisor Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, replied that he also recognizes the problem and told one of the speakers he would accept her offer of help.