Voters Replace Bribery-Accused Sheriff Who Championed Trump’s Agenda

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A county sheriff in Virginia has been pushed from office by local voters amid a federal indictment on bribery allegations. The newly defeated incumbent, Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, received just 20 percent of the vote in results reported the morning after Election Day, while independent victor Timothy Chilton passed 55 percent.

Federal authorities’ allegations against Jenkins allege that he dangled the prospect of making potential donors into so-called auxiliary deputies and assisting with access to firearms. Rick Rahim, for instance, is a Virginia businessman who’d been left without legal access to guns following a criminal conviction, and Jenkins gave Rahim that auxiliary deputy role and joined his pushes for accessing firearms once again. (He’s also charged.) A news publication called Bolts summarized that Jenkins was accused of “accepting more than $70,000 in cash and campaign contributions since 2019 in exchange for making people auxiliary deputies and helping them access guns.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was also an avid supporter of the approach to handling immigration trumpeted by Donald Trump. Jenkins, for instance, led an effort in his department to cooperate extensively with federal immigration enforcement, leaving his county with now the only such program in Virginia.

That category of work drove the establishment of what were termed sanctuary cities and states, meaning jurisdictions in which the local authorities refused to participate in immigration enforcement and instead stuck to routine law enforcement efforts. Contrary to characterizations from the Right, such areas do not just allow anyone to do anything. Refusing to extend the enforcement of federal immigration law beyond its ordinary confines doesn’t mean refusing to enforce any law.

Jenkins started his department’s involvement in that manner with federal authorities in 2018. Chilton has questioned it. Neither of the men were the official candidate backed by the local Republican Party, a status instead held by a third individual, Joseph Watson, who got 24 percent of the vote.