I don’t believe that Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is a bad guy.
I don’t believe he’s a thief, as banners flying high above Palm Beach County these days claim.
And I believe he’s running a tight ship in trying times of terrorism, budget cuts and anti-government sentiments.
But last week, Bradshaw proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s been corrupted.
By power. And eight years as the county’s top law enforcement official.
I reached that conclusion, and the conclusion he doesn’t deserve a third term, after the theatrical arrest of PBSO Internal Affairs Lt. Dean Johnson. Johnson allegedly leaked to Gossip Extra information about investigations into out-of-control deputies whose actions made the sheriff look like an inept manager.
What’s more, the paperwork on Johnson’s arrest put out by outgoing State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, Bradshaw’s lap dog, also shows that McAuliffe and Bradshaw could bring criminal charges against Mark Dougan, a former deputy.
Along with unhappy current deputies, Dougan airs out his political hatred of Bradshaw and his inner circle on his pbsotalk.com website. He also flies the anti-Bradshaw banners that appeared above the Honda Classic over the weekend.
That makes Dougan an opponent to the Bradshaw regime.
PBSO officials have been obsessing about Dougan and his pbsotalk.com for months — despite the fact that, while it presents truths culled from public records, pbsotalk often lowers itself to unwarranted name-calling of Bradshaw and his aide-de-camp Mike Gauger.
This alone discredits pbsotalk.com‘s good work and should have Bradshaw’s posse dismiss it.
Oh but no, that would make too much sense.
So, in another lean budget year, PBSO and McAuliffe have been wasting untold taxpayers’ money to catch low-level gossiper Johnson and the owner of a boutique website. Now, that’s something that’ll make the public sleep better at night.
For the cloak-and-dagger probe, disgraced PBSO Sgt. Ann Burke went “undercover” and taped her conservations with Dean.
I am privy to some of the material that Johnson supposedly put out, and I’ll be shocked if a jury convicts him. There were no secrets in there. Just information that the public had the right to know.
I suspect that McAuliffe and Bradshaw and Gauger have just enough sense to know that their case is as thin as their collective skin.
But make no mistake: There is purpose to their madness.
The Johnson/Dougan investigation represents nothing more than an expensive internal memo to PBSO staff. It reads: “If you make the sheriff look bad by releasing inside information during this campaign, the sheriff will make your life miserable.”
And there’s another message, just as clear and adressed to the voters.
It goes something like this: ”Don’t doubt that Bradshaw is the best candidate for sheriff, or we’ll shut down your freedom of information!”
If you want proof that Palm Beach County is a banana republic ruled by Manuel Noriega-esque characters, look no further. This investigation is the most blatant example of abuse of power and public funds I’ve seen in my 25 years in the news business.