Nugent can't be sheriff and run for Congress
Hernando TodayThe issue: Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent's run for 5th District seat in Congress. Our opinion: Nugent should resign his post as sheriff.
Published: May 5, 2010
Published: May 5, 2010
It's not fair to the taxpayers of Hernando County to pay Sheriff Richard Nugent's salary and benefits - which eclipse $136,000 annually - when he'll be spending much of his time running for Congress between now and the August primary.
Because of his 11th-hour, backroom deal with U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite to run for her seat in Congress, Nugent needs to be a full-time campaigner and resign his elected law enforcement post immediately.
If he plans on winning, that is.
Nugent was planning on retiring at the end of his term in 2012 anyway. He should simply retire from his post earlier now that he is running for Congress.
It could also be considered a conflict of interest for Nugent to retain his sheriff's position while negotiating a budget deal with county commissioners. If elected to Congress, would Nugent throw commissioners a few bones if they go easy on him during a critical budget process when the sheriff's department would otherwise likely see drastic cuts?
Nugent has placed himself in a precarious position as the top law enforcement officer of Hernando County running for a seat in Congress. He should not do both.
Nugent's deal with Brown-Waite started his campaign off under the cloud of good ol' boy Florida politics, cutting out other possible qualified contenders for the seat by filing at the last minute.
Nugent and Brown-Waite avoided letting any other possible GOP contenders in on the news that Brown-Waite was stepping down. Those contenders include state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Nancy Argenziano, a member of the state's Public Service Commission, who has served as a Republican in the state Senate and House.
They were none too pleased to learn of Nugent's last-minute deal with Brown-Waite. If they had known Brown-Waite was calling it quits, they might have thrown their hats in the race. That would have given Republican voters more - perhaps even better - choices in the primary.
However, that's all water down the Potomac now. It's political newcomer Jason Sager, a tea party candidate, against Nugent in the Republican Primary.
What's important now is that the taxpayers and residents of Hernando County elected a full-time sheriff to look out for their safety and welfare. Taxpayers know Nugent can't do that for the next three months on the campaign trail in eight different counties that make up the largest congressional district in Florida and the seventh largest in the U.S.
We believe Nugent has served the citizens of Hernando County honorably as sheriff. Even though he pulled a slick political move that cut out possible qualified contenders, if he wants to win Brown-Waite's seat in Congress, he should at least be fair to the taxpayers who elected him.
It's a disservice to the citizens of Hernando County for the sheriff to collect a full-time salary and spend the amount of time he'll need to spend running an eight-county congressional campaign.