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Culpeper County's sheriff is still in office despite federal charges

Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins
Culpeper County Sheriff's Office
Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins

The sheriff of Culpeper County remains in office even though he’s facing federal corruption charges.

Bribes for badges. That's the case federal prosecutors are charging against Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins. They say he took more than $70,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for making donors auxiliary sheriff's deputies; complete with badges, ID cards and the ability to carry concealed firearms without a permit in all 50 states.

Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond Law School says prosecutors need to show an exchange of money for an official act.

"I think they'll have to show that money was paid by these people who were not in the government for some kind of government favors by way of these campaign contributions," Tobias says. "And that exchange, I think, probably be enough to show that there are violations here."

Looming over the background is the case of former Governor Bob McDonnell whose 2014 conviction was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. Legal expert Rich Kelsey:

"I think the acts are much more closely tied to the official, and I think it's much more of a quid pro quo than I ever thought we saw in the McDonnell case," Kelsey says. "Where I think, as the Supreme Court indicated, they were really stretching the bounds of what constitutes an official act."

Sheriff Jenkins did not respond to a request for a comment. The trial is set for September.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.