Attorney General won't issue LETF funds opinion until budget dispute is resolved

Attorney General won't issue LETF funds opinion until budget dispute is resolved

The dispute between Escambia County commissioners and the sheriff over seized criminal money will remain in limbo for a while.

County commissioners asked the State Attorney General for an opinion on whether Sheriff David Morgan was spending money from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, or LETF money properly.

The county does not approve of how the sheriff has been spending the money but Attorney General Pam Bondi's office says it will withhold any opinion on the matter until after a budget dispute between the commission and the sheriff is resolved.

"Attorney General Opinions are not a substitute for the advice and counsel of the attorneys who represent governmental agencies and officials on a day to day basis. They should not be sought to arbitrate a political dispute between agencies or between factions within an agency or merely to buttress the opinions of an agency's own legal counsel. Nor should an opinion be sought as a weapon by only one side in a dispute between agencies."

The sheriff has appealed his budget to the governor, claiming the commission is not giving him sufficient funding.

The county said they rejected the sheriff's pay plan based on logic and reason. They added the sheriff already has money in his budget to keep deputies from leaving.

Commissioners said only 62 percent of the sheriff's personnel are sworn deputies and the rest is administrative staff. They claim the sheriff's office employs more staff in its public information office than in the robbery and homicide unit.

Commissioners also wonder how much of the sheriff's $2 million plan to retain deputies would actually go to deputies and not administrative personnel.

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