A move to censure Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden appears to be dead.
Rock County Board Chairman Russ Podzilni on Thursday told The Gazette he would not place the censure resolution on the county board’s agenda.
The County Board Public Safety and Justice Committee on Monday voted 4-0 to reject the resolution. Podzilni said at the time that he would put the resolution on the full board’s agenda if a majority of board members wanted it, but none had contacted him about the matter.
Podzilni said the committee’s vote and comments by committee members and by members of the public at the meeting weighed on his decision as did a discussion with the county corporation counsel, which assured him he followed proper procedures.
“I feel obligated to honor the vote of that committee,” Podzilni said, adding that the board works on a committee system, and committee members are talented and he has “great faith in what they do.”
Podzilni met with Spoden on Thursday to get Spoden’s version of events.
Spoden had strongly suggested to a Janesville police officer that an investigation of a party that included underage drinking last summer was ill-advised, according to Janesville police reports.
The officer wrote in his report that Spoden also told him he should excuse himself from the case because those involved were prominent people, and that could be bad for the officer and his family.
Spoden’s son Joey was among a number of recent Craig High School graduates who attended the party.
One of the graduates, a close friend of Joey Spoden, was paralyzed in an incident in a pool at the party, and Janesville police were investigating that incident as well as the drinking violations.
A subsequent review by the state Division of Criminal Investigation found no criminal wrongdoing on Spoden’s part, but District Attorney David O’Leary, who asked for the state review, said Spoden should have known better than to interfere in the investigation.
Podzilni said he has heard from concerned citizens.
“The comments I’ve gotten are basically that the sheriff is doing a very, very good job, that he acted emotionally as a concerned parent. Who knows how someone else might have acted?” Podzilni said.
Podzilni said Spoden told him Thursday that if constituents are dissatisfied, they can tell him so with their votes in the fall elections.
“From my perspective, the sheriff is doing an excellent job, and I back him,” Podzilni said.
Spoden said Monday he had not decided whether he is running for re-election. A captain in the sheriff’s office, Gary Groelle, has announced he will run for the second time.
County board member Rick Richard, who sponsored the resolution, said in an email Thursday he believes he has fulfilled his responsibility to the constituent who asked for the resolution and that his understanding is that the constituent is satisfied.
Richard earlier said a censure would have been “simply an official disapproval of an official’s action” that identifies apparent violations of the sheriff’s office’s standards of conduct and code of ethics.
The county board has no authority to discipline or remove a sheriff. Only the governor can remove a sheriff from office.