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Ada Sheriff Nominee's Anti-Semitic, Racist And Sexist Writings Take Center Stage During Interviews

An audience listens as the Ada County Commission interviews Sheriff Nominee Doug Traubel
Troy Oppie
Boise State Public Radio
An audience listens as the Ada County Commission interviews Sheriff Nominee Doug Traubel

The Ada County Commission interviewed three nominees for Ada County Sheriff Wednesday. Nominee Doug Traubel says his anti-semitic, racist and sexist writings won’t factor into the job he could do as Sheriff of Idaho’s largest local law enforcement agency.

During his hour-long interview with several dozen people watching, County Commissioners quickly zeroed in on Traubel’s inflammatory posts on social media and his book, Red Badge: A veteran peace officer's commentary on the Marxist subversion of American Law Enforcement & Culture.

Commissioner Kendra Kenyon read passages from the book, as well as excerpts from Traubel’s social media posts. The book claims Marxist values have eroded America, including increasing the number of kids born to single mothers. Traubel writes that single mothers aren’t economically viable because they require state support to get by.

“As a single mom raising two kids, I personally take offense - I actually take offense to all of [these statements],” Kenyon said.

Later in the interview, she asked Traubel to prove an outlandish claim about rape reporting.

“You say there’s a horrific false number of allegations of rape,” Kenyon said, then reading from Traubel’s book: “By most estimates, the false allegations are at least 50%.”

“Where do you get those numbers?” she asked.

“I can’t source that off the top of my head, but,” he responded as Kenyon cut him off.

“You really don’t use critical data,” she said. “You’re just making it up as you go.”

“No, no, no,” Traubel responded, and then laughed. “In that instance, certainly it’s not cited but my book is very well researched.”

Traubel also believes the West lost World War II because the U.S. didn’t defeat communism in Eastern Europe. He made antisemitic remarks, including blaming Jewish populations for causing Nazism. Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime during the war.

Traubel told the commission he had nothing to change or retract of his previous writings. He says he could do the job of sheriff.

“I recognize the guardrails of the office and the purpose of the office,” he said when pressed by commissioners. “It’s not my playroom. My oath trumps my preferences.”

Ada County GOP party leaders narrowed a list of six names to three nominees for County Commissioners to choose from. Traubel got more votes from party leaders than any other potential nominee, according to several letters of support party leaders sent commissioners.

Traubel and the two other finalists, Mike Chilton and Matt Clifford, were asked about enforcing federal laws, including gun ownership.

Traubel and Chilton said they would not enforce laws they felt were unconstitutional. Clifford, the current Eagle Police Chief, phrased it differently, only saying he would use his powers as sheriff to uphold the same constitutional rights he’s enjoyed as an Idahoan.

“I really need Idaho to stay Idaho,” Clifford quipped during his interview.

Each nominee says part of their role would be to ensure Idaho doesn’t become Seattle or Portland, referencing perceived problems with crime and homelessness in those cities. None were asked to provide or offered specific examples of how they would do that.

Nominee Chilton, who refused to disclose much background information to commissioners as part of the interview process, called Ada County a cabal.

“We’re going for a fourth sheriff in a row picked out of a small group of people. I think it’s time to open up the windows and let some fresh air in,” he said.

He told commissioners he’d heard from hundreds of Sheriff deputies since nominations were announced. Commissioner Ryan Davidson noted most of the publicly-submitted feedback from current employees favored Clifford, and asked Chilton to send any notes of support he received to the county to be acknowledged in the record. Chilton pushed back, saying he didn’t want to disclose who supported him for fear of retribution.

Chilton worked for the Sheriff’s department more than a decade ago and currently teaches in the West Ada School District. He said the ‘cabal’ refers to previous sheriffs resigning mid-term resulting in an appointment instead of an election. The next appointed sheriff will be up for election in 2022.

Lieutenant Clifford — the only current deputy among the nominees — started thinking about the sheriff position after he became Eagle’s police chief in 2019. He and several other high-ranking deputies recently began planning who would replace now-former sheriff Steve Bartlett.

“People knew that we were talking about it, they knew that I was going to step up in that role eventually,” he said.

Bartlett resigned May 31, six days after he was informed that group had chosen Clifford to run for Sheriff in 2024.

The abrupt resignation has left some saying the department has a morale issue. Clifford disagreed.

“What employees need right now,” he said, “is they need to feel that they are trusted by their administration and their Sheriff.”

Nominees were also asked about expanding the Ada County jail, which is needed in a growing region and the three said the facility needed to be updated.

Commission Chair Rod Beck also asked if submission holds like the one which killed George Floyd should be banned. Each nominee said no, with Clifford and Traubel each noting that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used the move incorrectly.

Public feedback on the nomination is still being accepted. The three County Commissioners will vote to determine the next sheriff during a 3 p.m. meeting Friday.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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