Jackson County, Kentucky Sheriff Denny Peyman is no stranger to controversy. In October of 2012 he was called onto the carpet by the Jackson County Fiscal Court to address nearly $300,000 in missing funds from the Sheriff’s Department. The Fiscal Court felt so strongly that they formed a separate county police department made up of Sheriff Peyman’s former deputies…at least the ones who passed a drug test. As it stands now, Sheriff Peyman is the entire Sheriff’s Department in Jackson County.
“There are a number of reimbursements that he receives that somehow didn’t make their way to the fiscal court,” said Judge-Executive Smith.
Peyman responded by saying “I was the one that called the FBI in. I was the one that called for the audit to come back. I say if we’re going to expose it, we’re going to expose it all. There are criminal charges we’re looking at after talking with the FBI and with the attorney general’s office, so they’ve asked me not to say much about that.” When asked if the investigation was toward his department he responded “Within the whole system here. The local government, some in my own department.”
In a reaction to spurious internet blogsphere rumors that the White House was going to use executive action to “ban assault weapons” Peyton held a press conference at a local restaurant in McKee, the county seat of Jackson County. He reiterated the NRA position “American citizens already have given up too much power over guns.”
Further he opined “I’m for people defending themselves. There are some places in this county that takes me 45 minutes to get to. If they have a gun, they could do a better job of defending themselves than waiting for me.” Jackson County is now patrolled by the Sheriff, the Fiscal Court established Jackson County Police Department and the Kentucky State Police, which is located 15-40 miles from Jackson County.
Other than his valid concerns of response times for a sprawling, mountainous county, the Sheriff drew two lines in the sand. First, he declared that he would not enforce “unconstitutional laws”. Further he stated “It doesn’t matter what law he passes, the sheriff has more power than the federal people, they need to go back and study that, we’re a commonwealth.”
When asked what he intended to do, Peyman continued his objections to the internet rumors that the government was going to “take our guns” with “We’ll see when push comes to shove. It’s going to have to go into the courtrooms. It’s not going to be, I mean we don’t want a bloodbath in our community when they come in to take guns. It’s going to have to be taken care of in a court room before it gets to that point.”
Peyman went on…”I’m an elected official just like the president of the nation is, only he doesn’t live in Jackson County, I do. He doesn’t know these people here and what threats they live with daily, you know, I do.”
Jackson County, Kentucky is located 50 miles south east of Lexington. The 13,000 population county, with a population density of 38 people per square mile has a median household income of $20,177 and 30% living below the poverty line and 14% unemployment rate. In 2008 84.36% of the county voted for McCain and in 2012 86.25% of the 5061 votes were for Romney. In 2011 there were 463 crimes of which 189 were cleared.
Peyman is just one example of many politicians and spokespersons who have reacted publicly to false and misleading information that is fomenting on the rightwing blogsphere and fora, often with unintended consequence. The unintended consequence of this action will be similar to that of Pulaski and McCreary Counties in Kentucky who went to the Supreme Court in their efforts to keep the 10 Commandments posted in public buildings…exorbitant legal expenses for their impoverished counties.