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Wednesday, September 4, 2019
How Ya Feeling Sheriff Blakely?
Blogger Comments: Well! It sounds like Sheriff Blakely is getting a dose of his own medicine the same as his criminal friends from Morgan County. What goes around comes around. Karma. No matter how big you think you are, no matter the power, you are gonna get caught.
Mike Blakely, the criminally indicted 10-term sheriff of Limestone County, co-owns a racehorse named Game Overtime.
Blakely, Limestone County Commissioner Steve “Ned” Turner and retired deputy Johnny McDonald share the 2-year-old sorrel gelding racehorse.
Turner said the men bought the horse in the fall of 2017 because of a mutual interest in horses and the sport. He said they equally split all expenses and earnings.
Blakely and Turner have both disclosed profits from their ownership of Game Overtime in documents filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission. Turner amended his 2018 ethics disclosure form to show he earned between $1,000-$10,000 as the owner of a racehorse. That same year, Blakely also reported earning between $1,000-$10,000 from the Louisiana Racing Commission for the racehorse.
Blakely’s attorneys have said he will plead not guilty and challenge the constitutionality of Alabama’s ethics law. In the meantime, Blakely is out of jail on bail and continuing to serve as sheriff. He didn’t return a call for comment.
Seldom spotted without a cowboy hat and boots, Blakely is an avid horseman. A leather saddle is the centerpiece in his office at the sheriff’s department.
Having taken office in 1983, Blakely is also believed to be Alabama’s longest serving sheriff. He’s currently serving a 10th term, which began in January.
As a member of the Limestone County commission, Turner is one of five elected men who set the budgets for each of the county’s departments — including the sheriff’s office. The commission allocated about $8.4 million to Blakely’s office and the county jail for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The commission hasn’t yet passed a budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Turner said if he believed his business relationship with the sheriff caused a conflict of interest, he wouldn’t vote on commission business involving Blakely.“As with anything that I felt was a conflict of interest, I would certainly abstain from voting,” Turner said in an email toAL.com. He said he doesn’t have any other outside business relationships with the sheriff.
State ethics laws require elected officials and some other public employees to file a statement of economic interest each year. The statement shows sources of income, debt and other information intended to disclose potential conflicts of interest between the filer’s public job and private financial interests.
The ethics forms don’t require filers to disclose the exact amounts of their earnings; instead they include a series of ranges .
On his ethics disclosure forms, Blakely has reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in lottery or gambling winnings since 2016.
In 2018, Blakely amended a 2016 ethics disclosure form to show he received more than $250,000 from Tennessee lottery and gaming establishments. In an amended 2017 form, Blakely reported earning between $50,000-$150,000 from gaming establishments.
On his 2018 form, Blakely reported winning between $50,000-$150,000 from a gaming institute, in addition to the racehorse earnings.Blakely was indicted by a Limestone County grand jury on six felony counts of using his position or office for personal gain, six felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft charge. Blakely’s case is being prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
Blakely remains in office where he continues to oversee the department’s multi-million dollar budget, plus other discretionary funds like money collected through the sale of pistol permits.
Turner, a lifelong Limestone County resident, was first elected to the commission in 2012. According to his bio on the county commission website, Turner “enjoys raising and breeding quarter horses on a small family farm in the East Limestone community.”