At El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa's first press conference since allegations he had engaged in sex with subordinates, he warned reporters not to ask questions about the ensuing scandal. The press did anyway.
Maketa appeared before a phalanx of cameras representing nearly all the press from Colorado Springs and Denver to discuss the findings of a report on the Black Forest fire, but many of the questions for him focused on the allegations and subsequent calls for him to leave office.
"Do you believe the scandal is going to go away?" a TV reporter asked.
"Are you thinking about resigning? Or having any apology in terms of what is going on in your office?" another asked.
"What do you say when people ask if releasing this report now is just a way to deflect attention from the current controversy," a third asked.
During the fire, Maketa appeared as a cool and confident public servant, adeptly coordinating the response, but in the year since, he has been dogged by negative press about his fiery outbursts, attempts to influence the election of his successor, and accusations he had sex with three subordinates he then promoted.
At the press conference, wearing a dark gray suit and tightly knotted tie, Maketa appeared as confident as he did at the fire. Though his hands shook as he turned the pages of his remarks, he responded calmly to nearly every question.
When asked if the scandal would go away, he said "Yeah . . . eventually it's gonna go away. There's going to be an investigation. When that investigation is complete, there's going to be a lot of facts shared."
When asked if he would resign, he did not rule it out, saying, "I am staying here until this investigation is completed. There's a lot of facts that are going to come out after this independent investigation is completed. And I think the community deserves to hear those facts before any more judgments, executions, or determinations of guilt are made."
Though his staff cut off a Gazette reporter's question, Maketa answered another from a TV reporter, asking whether the release of the fire report was just a distraction.
Maketa said it was not, saying "People can say what they want and twist what they want," but he had released a similar report a year after the Waldo Canyon fire.
The sheriff did not say whether he would leave if the investigation sustained allegations of affairs and creating a hostile workplace. Only a recall election could remove the sheriff before his term ends in January.
When asked by The Gazette whether the scandal had hindered the Sheriff's Office's ability to respond to big emergencies like the Black Forest fire in the future, Maketa took some responsibility, but said no.
"We have 786 employees in this office and every day, every one of them is coming to work and doing their job," he said. "The distractions that I'm responsible for have not in any way impacted their duties and responsibilities."
Jakob Rodgers contributed to this report.
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