Santa Clara County, California Sheriff Laurie Smith seems to be running quite an operation. She has something that a lot of her wealthy Silicon Valley residents want…concealed carry permits. And judging by the attention her department has attracted from prosecutors, Sheriff Smith and her underlings know how to extract full value for the government permission slips…allegedly.
Let’s set the Wayback Machine for a year ago when the local DA uncovered a $45,000 “contribution” to the Sheriff’s reelection effort by AS Solutions, a firm that provides security services for the tech titans at Facebook. The allegation, according to the San Jose Mercury News, was that the Sheriff’s “second-in-command — Undersheriff Rick Sung — now is a subject of the wide-ranging probe into whether Smith rewarded political donors with the coveted permits.”
The investigation chugged along for months until August of this year when four indictments were handed down against a “Santa Clara County Sheriff’s captain and three political supporters of Sheriff Laurie Smith for allegedly brokering a pay-for-play scheme in which campaign donations were exchanged for concealed-carry weapons permits.”
That didn’t look good at all. Soliciting campaign cash for carry permits would be, well, illegal.
Then, late last week, the
stench indictments reached even higher up the ladder in the Sheriff’s Department, all the way to Smith’s number two, Undersheriff Rich Sung.
A grand jury has indicted Santa Clara County Undersheriff Rick Sung and added an additional indictment against a captain linked to a concealed weapons permit scandal that has rocked the Sheriff’s Office.
An official with the Sheriff’s Office told KPIX 5 Friday that Sung was formally indicted and has been placed on administrative leave. The office also confirmed the jury issued an additional indictment against former sheriff’s spokesperson Capt. James Jensen, who has been on administrative leave since August.
But wait…who had (allegedly) made the payoffs connected with this latest indictment? Well, shazam. It was someone connected with yet another tech giant, this time Apple.
From the Washington Post:
Apple’s head of global security was charged with bribery last week for allegedly promising to donate iPads to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in exchange for concealed-weapons permits, according to an indictment made public Monday.
The charges are part of a broader, two-year investigation into the sheriff’s office, according to a news release on the Santa Clara County district attorney’s website. The investigation explored an alleged scheme to trade concealed-weapons permits in exchange for goods, such as iPads and expensive sports tickets.
Thomas Moyer, who has run Apple’s security department since 2013, according to his LinkedIn page, had applied for concealed-weapons permits, according to the release. The sheriff’s office held up the application, the news release alleges, until Moyer agreed to get Apple to donate $70,000 worth of iPads.
Moyer’s attorney says this is all just a crazy mixup and the iPads had nothing to do with procuring the coveted carry permits.
Through his attorney, Ed Swanson, Moyer denied the allegations and said there was no quid pro quo. Moyer helped arrange a donation of iPads to a new education center for the sheriff’s office, Swanson said, but that donation was not connected with four concealed-carry permits issued to Apple employees.
Oh. The hardware was all just for…education. And the four permits being issued — going price now apparently about $17,500 in cash or trade — were just a coincidence.
Somehow, Sheriff Smith herself has yet to be touched by any of this. At least not so far. We’re apparently supposed to believe that one of her captains and her second-in-command (allegedly) sold the carry permits without her knowledge. And that she was completely unaware that the influx of funds in her reelection account had anything to do with that fact that her department is the sole arbiter of who can and can’t legally carry firearms in Santa Clara County.
From all appearances, the Sheriff has been running a dirty operation for years, taking full advantage of the corrupting temptation of having complete discretion over who can — and who can’t — exercise one particular constitutional right in the county (innocent until proven guilty, of course). We’ll see if and for how long the Sheriff herself can continue to dodge an indictment in the ongoing investigation.
Being the civic-minded individuals we are here at The Truth About Guns, we’d like to offer California Governor Gavin Newsom and the legislature an easy fix for this kind of corruption. Surely they’d like to do something to clean this up. Fortunately it’s a simple fix. California could join most of the rest of the country and make concealed carry permit issuance a shall-issue process. In other words, take public officials’ discretion — and the corresponding temptation to profit from it — out of the process.
Of course, removing a juicy opportunity for graft and personal enrichment would also remove most of the fun and benefit of holding public office, so we won’t hold our breath waiting for something like that to happen.