by Sam Levin
Last week, news broke that Osage County Sheriff Michael Dixon has been accused of stalking and harassing a female cop.
Dixon also happens to be an appointed member of the Missouri legislature's so-called "Bipartisan Investigative Committee on Privacy Protection," which, given the allegations he now faces, is problematic, according to some critics.
"There is a clear conflict-of-interest," State Rep. Stacey Newman, a Democrat, tells Daily RFT. "It's very troubling.... There are questions that need to be answered before you have credibility serving on a privacy protection committee."
See also: - Stacey Newman on GOP Gun Bill: "Could You Imagine Anything Crazier?" - Will Missouri GOP's Gun Owner Privacy Efforts Make State Vulnerable to Terrorism? - After GOP Gun Privacy Outcry, Missouri Won't Scan Concealed-Carry Docs
Newman tweeted about it this week, calling on the sheriff to step down while the investigation is underway:
What?? MO Sheriff on Speaker's Privacy Interim Committee under investigation re stalking/harassment http://t.co/gRiOG16bCy— Rep. Stacey Newman (@staceynewman) July 8, 2013
Sheriff Dixon, step down from MO Speaker's Privacy Protection Committee until you're cleared of stalking/harassment charges. #moleg— Rep. Stacey Newman (@staceynewman) July 8, 2013
A spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol tells Daily RFT that the agency has launched a "preliminary investigation" to determine if a full investigation is warranted. He says he cannot comment further.
ABC 17 News reported last week that the sheriff is accused of harassing and stalking a Maries County woman who was a former co-worker. The woman reportedly originally brought the complaint to the Maries County Sheriff's Department. (Daily RFT left messages for that department and for Dixon and will update if we hear back).
Dixon has been an outspoken Second Amendment rights advocate and anti-gun control law enforcement voice in Missouri. He has said his department would not enforce federal executive orders on gun laws. This pits him squarely against Newman, a member of the minority party who has staunchly opposed pro-gun bills and introduced her own legislation to establish universal background checks in Missouri.
Here's footage of Dixon discussing his stance on the gun debates.
The committee in question -- made up of a dozen lawmakers, a handful of sheriffs and a few others -- is charged with investigating the controversy this past legislative session around the privacy of concealed-carry records.
The issue, a major talking point for Republican critics of Governor Jay Nixon, stems from a new Department of Revenue policy to copy and scan source documents from citizens getting their licenses. The fear was that there could be some sort of coordinated effort to violate the privacy rights of gun owners.
Missouri's revenue director has since resigned and Nixon also formally reversed the policy and just recently signed a bill into law that explicitly bans the state from scanning and retaining these sorts of documents.
Newman says she is not a fan of the continued outcry about what she sees as a non-issue -- and is also not pleased that a sheriff facing harassment charges remains on the state committee.
"The fact that the highway patrol is investigating is enough for me," Newman says.
Daily RFT also left a message with Jones' office regarding Dixon's role on the committee and will update if we hear back.