The Oregon Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who famously called the militants who occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge "patriots."
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The Oregon Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation of Grant Palmer (photo above) the Grant County sheriff who was sympathetic to the militants who illegally occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Sheriff Palmer is reported to have taken the side of the occupiers, urging officials to concede to some of their demands.
The investigation is in response to one of nine complaints made to the state agency that regulates law enforcement officers. The complaints allege misconduct by Sheriff Palmer, and express unease over his ties to leaders of the Malheur occupation. Palmer famously told local reporters that he considered the occupiers to be "patriots,"and expressed his opinion that the takeover would not be resolved unless authorities acquiesced to some of the occupier's demands, including freeing two ranchers jailed for arson and the withdrawal of FBI agents from the scene.
In January, Sheriff Palmer twice met with militant leaders in John Day, including Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana, and Jon E. Ritzheimer, 32, of Peoria, Arizona. Ritzheimer said in a later interview that he and Payne autographed Palmer's pocket version of the Constitution.
The militants then agreed to appear at a community meeting in John Day on Jan. 26, a session organized by a handful of Grant County residents who are sharply critical of federal government conduct. Palmer also was scheduled to speak.
The militants never appeared because they were stopped by state troopers and FBI agents on the state highway between Burns and John Day. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, 54, was shot and killed as he attempted to evade police. Ammon Bundy and other leaders were arrested.
Later, Palmer referred to the police operation as an "ambush."
The investigation is being conducted by the Criminal Justice Division in Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's office. The division investigates public corruption. The Justice Department has not commented on the substance of the probe, except to confirm they are examining one of the nine complaints filed against the sheriff, all of which cite his relationship with the militants. Speculation however, seems to center around the complaint made by John Day Police Chief Richard Gray who objected to Palmer twice meeting with the militants in John Day.
"I have a great public safety concern when the Grant County sheriff is allowed to openly meet with and be part of this group of lawbreakers," Gray wrote in his complaint.
Palmer, who has served as Grant County sheriff since 2000 and is facing a tough reelection fight, has declined to comment. But Ammon Bundy, leader of the militants, released a statement from jail, defending the sheriff, encouraging people to "stand with Sheriff Palmer."
Photo via YouTube