El Paso sheriff refuses to enforce gun laws after accusing Democrats of gun control extortion

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says he will not enforce some new gun control laws being considered in Colorado after he accused Democrats of extortion.

Maketa told people at a meeting on Thursday he would only enforce some of the proposed new laws if the county could be held liable for any damages caused by his department's lack of enforcement.

According to KOAA-TV, county commissioners Peggy Littleton and Amy Lathen backed Maketa's stance and said they are looking into what actions the county could take to stop any laws from going into effect locally.

The Colorado sheriff spoke out on what he called "extortion" to get sheriffs across the state to change their position on gun control bills Wednesday.

Maketa was upset that Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, was allowed to testify on a gun control bill at the state capitol and not some Colorado citizens.

"I’ve witnessed very controversial bills set in a process to allow full access from supporters, opponents, and citizens to be heard by their legislators," Maketa said. " On Monday, this didn’t occur."

Maketa himself testified March 4 against the expanded background check bill.

Maketa said he received an email from a member of the County Sheriffs Of Colorado.

"Basically the email said that the Senate Dem leadership is very upset with the Sheriffs and their opposition to the gun control bills," Maketa said in a radio interview on KVOR.

"Support of SB197 would put us in a more favorable light for a salary bill support from the Dems," the email said according to Maketa.

Maketa was outraged.

"As I see it, senate Dems have made it known, 'Sheriffs, obey or no pay for you,'" Maketa wrote on his website. ”The first word that comes to my mind is extortion."

On the radio, Maketa went even further.

"I felt it was almost bordering extortion, attempted influence of public officials," Maketa said.

"I'm taking that up with leadership of the sheriffs' association," Maketa said.

"There were no threats that were ever intended in that email," Chris Olson, the executive director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, told KRDO-TV.

On Facebook this week, Maketa said, he has not been directly threatened.

"I want to make something very clear; I have not been directly threatened or coerced in any way nor would I tolerate any threat," Maketa wrote. "A message delivered verbally to a representative of the Colorado Sheriff's Association basically stated that the Senate Dems are very upset with the Colorado Sheriffs opposing the gun legislation proposed by the Senate Democrats. This message insinuated that this could negatively affect the salary bill which has been delayed and put off by the Democrats with the excuse that they would expect bipartisan support. I do believe the salary proposal is being held hostage."

7NEWS reached out to the Colorado Senate Majority office for a statement on the controversy.

"Sheriff Maketa's 'evidence' of Senate Democratic leadership extorting or influencing public officials is a chain of internal emails between sheriffs and CSOC speculating on the political climate at the Capitol. The Executive Director of CSOC has since confirmed that no legislator or legislative staffer attempted to influence the group regarding salaries," said spokesman Doug Schepman. "The email chain points out the true reason a salary bill has not been introduced -- it lacks the support of Sheriff Maketa's own party."

Maketa released the emails between him and Olson. Read them here: http://tinyurl.com/ba6p6gt

Read Maketa's statement on his website: http://shr.elpasoco.com/

Read Maketa's statements on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/maketaforsheriff

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