Sheriff Knight criticized for Facebook post

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SARASOTA COUNTY- Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight is facing criticism after Sarasota Sheriff’s Office shared a controversial Facebook post that has since been deleted.

The post in question promoted Sheriff Knight’s support for Governor Rick Scott’s U-S Senate Campaign, and people are asking if the post was appropriate.

On Monday Sheriff Knight endorsed Governor Scott’s campaign for U-S Senate along with 54 other Sheriffs. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office shared a live video of the endorsement on their official Facebook Page.

Then people shared their comments, saying things like “Please don’t use my tax money for highly partisan purposes!”

“If Sheriff Knight had posted the same stuff on his personal Facebook Page,” Alcock said. “I don’t think there would be any issue whatsoever.”

But New College Political Science Professor Frank Alcock says this Facebook Page is an official tool of the Sheriff’s Department.

“If we were to put Rick Scott Campaign paraphernalia all over the patrol cars in Sarasota County,” Alcock said. “I think we would be up in arms, I don’t know how this is different.”

University of Florida Political Ethics Professor Beth Rosenson says it calls into question the Sheriff’s impartiality.

“So let’s say you were pulled over or something,” Rosenson said. “And you have a bumper sticker for the other candidate who he didn’t endorse, so it raises questions about neutrality.”

Rosenson says it could also put pressure on those working in the department.

“There’s sort of an implicit pressure now if you don’t like Governor Scott not to say anything,” Rosenson said. “Or it will be better for your career if you agree you support it because the head of your office has made clear that he does.”

A spokesperson for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, “The Sheriff supports Governor Rick Scott as he has supported and continues to support law enforcement and legislation related to law enforcement.”

The post was deleted after we asked questions about the post, and after an article was published about the post by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at samantha.sonner@snntv.com.