Gateway Sun

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott finally responded to something Stephanie Eller said.

Eller, for those who are unaware, is running against Scott in the August 30 Republican primary. The winner will take on James Didio in the November general election.

We’ve watched for months as Eller has been goading, mocking, prodding and daring Scott to debate her any place, any time. Sheriff Scott has ignored Eller’s persistent debate demands, knowing he has nothing to gain politically.

Typically we try to stay in our lane. We cover what goes on in Gateway and tend not to wade in to the other races, but Scott is our Sheriff and Eller wants to be.

Since the beginning of the campaign Eller has been leveling endless complaints and accusations against Scott, who until yesterday shrugged them off.

What finally got Scott to speak up? In 2013 the Lee County chapter of the NAACP extended an invitation to Scott to attend an awards banquet, to which Scott declined and explained why in a letter. Basically, Scott stated that he was concerned that the NAACP acts with a double standard in loudly decrying white-on-black crime, while staying silent in matters of black-on-black crime.

Back then, the Ku Klux Klan apparently thought so highly of Scott’s letter that they shared it with their supporters.

Eller, on her Facebook page last night, decided to link Scott to the KKK as a result of that 2013 letter.

Then it got ugly.

From NBC-2:

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The sheriff’s letter was featured on the KKK website, and Eller made it part of her campaign material.

“The KKK website calls this a remarkable letter from Sheriff Mike Scott,” Eller stated.

She admits it wasn’t an endorsement, but rather it was “support just aligning themselves with him,” Eller said.

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Scott has remained mostly silent to Eller’s attacks throughout the campaign. But this crossed the line for Scott, and he responded.

“This in my view was unacceptable, and I felt the need to address it,” Scott told various media outlets via email.

“I understand people get desperate. I’ve been through campaigns before,” Sheriff Scott said.

There are plenty of things Sheriff Scott says that I don’t agree with, but I do agree with his assessment of Eller’s actions in this case. This was desperation politics.

It’s as though Eller is running around, jumping up and down in front of Scott trying to do anything she can to get his attention. Scott has ignored her for months, so Eller finally decided to go nuclear and invoke racism.

It worked. Scott finally responded to Eller.

For her part, Eller said she’s just frustrated Scott won’t debate her. But that’s only looking at things from her own perspective.

From Scott’s perspective? Why should he debate her? He has nothing to gain whatsoever.

Eller would just use the opportunity to hurl a hundred complaints that she and the community have against Scott, and to a lesser extent against those he commands.

And while I’m sure some of the complaints would be valid, I defy you to find me a Sheriff or a law enforcement agency anywhere in the United States that has a spotless record and a perfect relationship with the community.

Scott has been the Sheriff since 2004. And while it’s easy for a would-be Sheriff Eller to campaign on her spotless record since she’s never sat in the big chair, Eller would have plenty of mud on her after a few years on the job as well.

We expect perfection from our law enforcement, and while they get it right 99% of the time – that 1% usually has a negative impact on people’s lives.

While it’s fair game for Eller to take that 1% and campaign on it, it’s horribly unfair to vaguely link Scott to the KKK as a result of something he wrote to the NAACP three years ago.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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