An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Spokane County Sheriff Critical of Constitutional Sheriff's Association

Alex Smith via flickr
Spokane County Sheriff

The head of an organization that touts itself as working to restore the Constitution is supporting at least one candidate in Kootenai County for sheriff. But the Spokane County Sheriff says the organization has less than honorable intentions.

Richard Mack leads an organization called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. He describes the mission as that of upholding the Constitution and taking a stand against tyranny that has been made evident by the laws coming out of the “cesspool” of Washington D.C.

Mack says his organization supports several candidates nationwide, including John Green of Kootenai county, who is running against incumbent sheriff Ben Wolfinger.

According to Mack, Thomas Jefferson said the top executive of any county is the sheriff, and they should be responsible for upholding laws, even to the point of encouraging members to refuse to enforce laws that they believe are unconstitutional.  “Why would any sheriff allow the IRS to come in and victimize and criminalize the people of his county without at least checking to see what they’re doing?”

Mack also cites actions that he says are illegal by the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency in levying fines, and says sheriffs should be able to take action against such acts.

But Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovitch says Mack's group takes the wrong approach and would actually be circumventing the Constitution by over-riding laws at the enforcement level.  Knezovitch stated, “So you’re telling me that one person can defy the will of the American people, that law is constitutional? So you’re going to pick and choose? Where do you not get the concept that these people are all about power, and it’s by their definition and not the will of the people.”

Mack, who supported the stand-off at the Bundy ranch in Nevada, says his organization is "nonviolent.”  He continues, “This is a peaceful process, we do not advocate violence of any kind, but we do advocate that sheriffs stand with their citizens in a strong manner to create liberty.”

But Sheriff Ozzie Knezovitch says that is not the case and cites an interview with Fox News in which Mack talked about putting women and children in the line of fire at the Bundy ranch in case “rogue federal officers” opened fire.  Knezovitch stated, “You are the one that was going to put women and children up front to get killed. And you are saying you didn’t support a violent act. No, you had a tactical game plan about making this the worst possible scenario for the federal government. You were all about this.”

Richard Mack says he has met with Sheriff Knezovitch before, and he describes him as a ”decent individual who has become complacent in his office and not taken a strong enough stand to defend the Constitution.”

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.