Posted: Nov 5, 2012 7:33 PM by Andrew Ellison - email@example.com
Updated: Nov 8, 2012 6:26 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - Another employee in the Nueces County Sheriff's Department has filed a federal complaint against Sheriff Jim Kaelin. 12-year employee Thomas Burnside claims he was demoted to working in the Nueces County Jail for political reasons.
6 News obtained court documents that detail the complaint.
They say that Thomas Burnside was the chairman of the department's Political Action Committee.
The documents say that back in January, "Sheriff Jim Kaelin approached him and told him that the P.A.C should support and endorse his candidacy for sheriff".
The documents give Burnside's response. It reads, "Sergeant Burnside told Sheriff Kaelin that he would not be treated any differently than any other candidate and that the members would vote on the endorsement without any pressure from anyone".
The documents go on to say that not long after that, Sheriff Kaelin demoted Burnside from the patrol division to working in the jail.
Burnside's attorney, Christopher Gale, says Burnside is being punished for his free speech.
"The sheriff is pressuring his emloyees to support his candidacy, and when they don't, he takes retaliatory actions against them," Gale says.
He said that situations like this should never happen.
"When your elected officials are trying to use their capacity as, you know, your leader or your employer to coerce you to do things that they shouldn't, then something's wrong with that, and I think the public has a right to know," Gale says.
Sheriff Kaelin could not be reached for comment today. We left a message with his office, but they did not get back to us.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
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