El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa on Saturday told a Colorado Springs television news reporter that there is a possibility that he could leave office early.
In an exclusive interview and the sheriff's first public comments since early June, Maketa told Betty Sexton of Gazette news partner KKTV that he might consider stepping down before his final term ends Jan. 13.
"I am still sheriff," Maketa said in the interview. "The recall failed and I will be here until January, unless I decide to leave sooner.
"My goal has been to get to that date (Jan. 13). But if there's an advantage to this transition to go sooner, I might."
The interview came after accusations that Maketa is trying to set up his incoming successor, Bill Elder, to fail. According to recent emails sent out by Maketa spokesman Sgt. Greg White, two other local news outlets have alleged that the sheriff is overhiring, which could force Elder into laying employees off immediately after taking office.
In White's emails, he tells a reporter at one of the local news outlets "that you flat out lied." The Sheriff's Office goes on to explain in the emails that there are expected retirements and resignations coming up and that turnover in the Sheriff's Office results in losing 2.5 personnel per month.
The "overhiring" accusations come amid an investigation of the sheriff's conduct that began in mid-May after three commanders on Maketa's staff filed workplace complaints alleging sexual improprieties, creating a hostile work environment, discrimination and removing almost all oversight of the Sheriff's Office annual budget.
The accusations led to a unanimous vote of no-confidence by the El Paso County Commission and a recall effort against Maketa that ended without the needed signatures. The commissioners also called for the sheriff's resignation in late May.
There have been nine complaints filed against Maketa since May seeking $3.9 million in damages.
During Saturday's interview with KKTV, Maketa said his relationship with Elder is "a little soured right now."
"He's operating on bad information," the sheriff said.
While Elder told Sexton by phone that Maketa "doesn't respect me and that's his prerogative," the sheriff told her that he is not sabotaging the office.
"I have 27 years of my adult life invested in this organization," Maketa said. "The last thing I would ever want to do is see it fail."
When asked by Sexton if he'd discuss the commanders' complaints and related claims, Maketa pointed to the investigation and said he would eventually set the record straight for the public.
"I hope they would hold off on forming their opinions until the investigation is done and I've had the opportunity to respond. And I certainly will," Maketa said.
"If you want to write me off, go ahead. But what I would ask, at least give me a chance for the truth to come out, because I think what comes out is very different than what I was accused of."
Gazette reporter Matt Steiner contributed to this report.