Allegations against embattled Colorado sheriff Terry Maketa, who until just two weeks ago was considered a rising star in the state Republican Party, are piling up as quickly as calls for him to resign.
Maketa is the target of multiple investigations into allegations that he slept with at least three female employees of the Sheriff’s Office, promoted them to positions of power and gave them raises they didn’t deserve.
On Wednesday, the Colorado Springs Gazette — which originally broke the story about Maketa’s alleged improprieties — reported that another deputy claimed to have been pressured to vote for Maketa’s hand-picked successor during the El Paso County Republican Assembly.
The latest allegation is included in a notice to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sent by deputy Cliff Porter, “alleging the sheriff created a hostile work environment in which women were regarded as ‘sexual playthings’ and rewarded with promotions for sexual favors,” according to the Gazette’s story.
Porter recounted an incident in which he claimed to have been berated by Maketa for making political statements that were overheard and taken as criticism.
“This verbal abuse continued for almost four hours and included Sheriff Maketa physically threatening Mr. Porter by getting within inches of Mr. Porter’s face,” according to the complaint.
It continued to say that Porter, an elected delegate to the county GOP assembly, felt “bullied” by Maketa to vote for Maketa’s hand-picked successor. Maketa is term limited and can’t run for re-election.
So far, no one has spoken publically in Maketa’s defense, but Investigations Division Commander John San Agustin and Law Enforcement Bureau Chief Al Harmon, who were at the meeting in question, refuted that allegation.
The men told the Gazette that Maketa didn’t get in Porter’s face and that the discussion was about Porter’s comments regarding a missing person investigation. San Agustin and Harmon were accused in Porter’s EEOC complaint as being in league with the sheriff, the Gazette reported, along with Undersheriff Paula Presley, one of the women Maketa is accused of having a sexual relationship with.
Porter is asking for “not less than $500,000” in damages, according to the Gazette.
The allegations in the original report — which include claims that Maketa misspent taxpayer money traveling with his alleged paramours and that women who rebuffed his advances were denied promotions for which they were qualified — prompted investigations by the El Paso County Commissioners and possibly the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the local district attorney.
Maketa came to statewide prominence in 2013 as one of the main voices in opposition of Colorado’s new gun control laws. He was front and center in a photo of Colorado sheriffs opposing the new laws that ran on the cover of America’s 1st Freedom, a publication of the National Rifle Association. Until now, he’s also enjoyed general support at home after his handling of the Black Forest wildfire and is widely reported to have shown interest in running for higher office.
Maketa hasn’t commented publicly on the allegations, citing the pending investigations. But in response to El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton’s call for him to either resign or place himself on paid leave, his office issued a statement saying Maketa has no intention of doing either.
“Sheriff Maketa was duly elected by the citizens of El Paso County and has seven months remaining in his term,” the statement reads. “His intention is to complete the term to which he has been elected.”
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