Budget Buster

Numerous watchdog groups scrutinize anddocument the “pork-barrel” spending of government agencies across the nation. To facilitate some watchdogging of our own, Folio Weekly examined the spending habits of scandal-ridden Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, who has recently requested a $10.2 million increase to supplement his present $58 million budget. We have identified a few instances in which the sheriff’s spending appears excessive. Perhaps the Clay County taxpayer should keep that $10 mil.



Readers who have followed the sheriff’s sexcapades won’t be surprised to learn that Daniels likes to bend the rules when it comes to young women. Law-enforcement vehicles are typically issued to personnel who must respond to emergencies afterhours. Costs of such arrangements include the initial purchase price as well as insurance, maintenance and fuel. According to sources, Sheriff Daniels has given new cars to at least three young women in his employ—for no apparent reason. Their job descriptions involved administrative duties, and although diligent in our pursuit, Folio Weekly could find no indication that their paperwork was deemed emergency or required attention after normal working hours.



The sheriff hired a Las Vegas dancer to fly to Clay County and teach yoga to a few select CCSO officers for a half Namaste. According to public records, he paid Olivia Kvitne approximately $4,500 for the trip. Sources said the sheriff expensed some addition charges to entertain Kvitne, which brought the total to approximately $5,000.



Sources told Folio Weekly that morale in the sheriff’s office is at an all-time low. Insiders said some women are “scared to death for their jobs.” They said the sheriff has replaced experienced “middle-aged women” in long-held positions with young, attractive women with no experience—and given them much higher salaries. In one case, insiders said, Daniels replaced a woman in H.R. with a much younger, attractive blonde. However, because the younger woman could not accomplish the tasks required, he had to bring the former H.R. manager back to train the younger woman and to remain on staff to alleviate deficiencies.



The sheriff paid an undisclosed amount of money to hire former Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash to teach leadership classes to Clay County employees. Nash, a close friend of Undersheriff Ray Walden, had left his position in South Carolina amid a series of scandals. Nash said he stepped down because he felt God wanted him to do other things. When he later ran for his old job (perhaps he felt God had changed his mind), Nash lost the election, at which point he began to teach leadership classes.



In all fairness to Sheriff Daniels, he has saved a few bucks here and there, largely by firing personnel and settling scores. Steve Foster, one of his employees, was seriously ill and in the hospital. On July 23, Foster sent Daniels a memo, stating that he would run out of paid leave on July 26, and requesting an extension without pay, so he could keep his insurance. The sheriff saved money by firing Foster, allegedly by email. He also saved money by firing several high-ranking officers because he believed they were leaking information.

The CCSO attrition rate is high, even considering retirements and firings. The department has been compared to a sinking ship since Daniels was elected in 2016. From Aug. 23, 2017 to Aug. 23, 2019, 65 law enforcement officers have “separated,” along with 116 civilian employees and 22 detention deputies, for a grand total of 203 employees.



Before he asked for the big amplification, the sheriff attempted to raise the money unilaterally. Daniels notified the Clay County Superintendent of Schools that the price of “resource officers”—provided by CCSO for school security—was about to skyrocket. This did not work out well for the sheriff. The superintendent reportedly thought the sheriff’s new rate was disproportionate, and the school system decided to create its own police department. The new school board police will replace some 19 CCSO officers, who will be returned to Daniels at the end of September. This clearly mitigates the sheriff’s need for more money, as Daniels claimed a large part of the massive increase was earmarked for hiring 25 new deputies.



What has all this expenditure bought the people of Clay County? While the crime rate is dropping in surrounding counties, it has increased in Clay County since Daniels was elected. The sheriff recently tasked individuals within the CCSO to create a volunteer group to assess the efficiency of the agency. Sources said Daniels hoped to use the material to not only boost department statistics, but augment funds for campaign purposes. The evaluation, however, was more bad news for Daniels. The group told the sheriff that his department had many shortcomings and that they would be submitting written recommendations. The sheriff reportedly told them not to put anything “in writing” because it would then become public record—available to the press and the voter.