May 27, 2013 8:30 PM by Jacqui Heinrich,

Sheriff Maketa email on gun lawsuit fundraiser stirs controversy

An email from El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is raising a lot of eyebrows. The email is the latest development in the ongoing fight over gun control in our state.

"I think it is a misuse of power," Christy Lelait of A Whole Lot Of People For John Morse said. That's the crux of the criticism surrounding a recent email sent by El Paso County Public Information Officer Dave Rose. Sheriff Terry Maketa requested Rose send the email to all county employees alerting them to a $5.00 per person fundraiser scheduled for tomorrow night. The money will support a lawsuit by Maketa and fifty-three other Colorado sheriffs against the state's new gun control laws.

"Is he also providing information for the other side of the argument that this is very good legislation, that this is very simple gun safety issues and that there are a lot of people in support of it?" Lelait remarked.

The answer to that question is no; the event is titled 'Colorado's Assault on the Second Amendment' and is hosted by The Independence Institute, the conservative think tank that took up the sheriffs' lawsuit pro-bono. The speakers: Sheriffs Maketa, Smith, and Cooke -- all plaintiffs in the lawsuit-- and Denver University Professor David Kopel, a supporter of the lawsuit. In a previous interview, Kopel told News 5 of the legislation, "These bills aim directly at law abiding citizens and suppress their lawful ownership and use, especially defensive use, of firearms."

The group A Whole Lot Of People For John Morse opposes efforts to recall Senate President John Morse who spearheaded the gun control laws. The group says the email is a misuse of taxpayer money; the Public Information Officer sent the email during the business day, and his salary is paid by taxpayer dollars. "The sheriff is obviously pushing his own agenda and it is a misuse of county funds to do that," Lelait said.

Rose told News 5 the decision to accommodate Maketa's request was not his own, but was approved by the Chair and Vice Chair of the El Paso County Board of Commissioners.

Critics of the email say if Sheriff Maketa can use the county list serves for his political agenda, others should be able to do the same thing.

News 5 is digging deeper into this issue; we've contacted the El Paso County Attorney to find out if the email was legal. Their office is closed for the holiday, but we expect to hear from them on Tuesday.



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