|Sheriff Terry Buchanan|
This scandal has been building since last April when WBTV filed a public records request for text messages and emails that passed between Buchanan and the commissioners leading up to his appointment. WBTV submitted a second request in July for additional communications between Buchanan and county commissioner Jeff Rose. Rose promptly lawyered up and refused to release his text messages. The lawyer Rose hired, Ben Hurley, just happens to be a business partner of county attorney, John Kilby.
Meanwhile, the attorney that Sheriff Buchanan hired was being paid out of county money without commissioner approval. Who is that attorney? Why, none other that Stacy C. Eggers IV, the redoubtable "Four" Eggers.
WBTV complained in July that "to date [July 7], the county has withheld text messages sent and received from the personal cell phones of Rose and Buchanan; certain text messages redacted by county commissioners without explanation; and certain emails and email attachments that were withheld with little or no explanation."
The cover-up had begun to get felonious as early as June. Sheriff Buchanan instructed his deputies to "investigate" (intimidate) three county employees who were attempting to fulfill the WBTV records request, principally Ann Clark, who serves as the public records custodian and clerk to the board of commissioners, and two employees of the county's IT department. Assisting the sheriff in this assault on county employees was chief deputy Rick Clayton.
The grand jury, not surprisingly, found the intimidation a clear case of obstruction of justice. (You may read the indictments here.)
One word comes to mind to describe Four Eggers' involvement in advising a client who has to respond to a public records request --- rich! He certainly has plenty of public records request experience from Watauga. Of course advice given in private practice may well differ from advice he gave while in the role of County Attorney. Turn over everything! Oh wait, hold back on the embarrassing stuff. Message to Ashe County Sheriff - you're wasting your money. Oh wait, that would be Ashe County taxpayer money you're wasting.
One intriguing part of this scandal, which has proved difficult to get the facts, is what Buchannon omitted and/or exaggerated about his prior work experience. Specifically, there are many questions about his military service record. What did Jeff Rose know, and when did he know it?
Four Eggers has shown himself to be adept at using the law to get around the law.
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