Shoalwater Bay Administration Promotes Backlash Against Souvenir and Padgett for their Campaign Efforts.
No other issue illicited as much anger against Matt Padgett as his campaign efforts against Sheriff Scott Johnson. The tribal administrator and all three officers were furious against Padgett for challenging Johnson on social media. Regardless of this reality, the administration directed WSP investigators to maintain a focus on more politically damaging allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Administrators also attempted to mask their political motivations by telling WSP investigators to stop looking into the Sheriff’s campaign. Padgett’s campaign against Johnson was an issue that Mike Rogers remained angry about months after Johnson had lost the Sheriff’s race according to interviews.
Human Resource Director Jesse Smith and Rogers had dealt extensively with the issue on several occasions during the campaign but decided to drop it as a focus even though all officers, including Souvenir and Padgett (for opposite reasons), considered the Sheriff Johnson controversy as a central driving force for what was happening.
It is not hard to surmise that sexual harassment could garner more sympathy in the eyes of some Council members. Also, highlighting Scott Johnson during an intensifying political race and shining the light on the Shoalwater Bay Administration’s actions to stifle Padgett’s first amendment rights during an election year did not serve their interests. In fact, Robin Souvenir made this explanation a definitive part of his understanding as to why the administration had initiated actions against Robin and Matt during this period.
Sarah Boggs on October 19, 2018 testimony: In this statement, Sarah admits to calling Scott Johnson and discussing what she had against Matt Padgett. Sarah also spoke with HR Director Jesse Smith. HR informed Sarah that they told Matt to stop criticizing Scott Johnson.
Sarah Boggs: “Matt. He’s — he’s out of control. He’s just — I — I won’t work with him. I — what he has written about the sheriff on Facebook — I’ve never been embarrassed to wear a uniform before, but I am so horrified. I — I’ve called, uh — and you know it’s election year and my boss is running and politics aside, I’ve called Scott and I’ve told him I am so sorry, like — this is out of control. And I’ve told Jessie [sic] and he’s like well, we told him to stop. Well, he won’t stop. He’s posting as of two days ago. Horrible things about Scott Johnson. Horrible, and on Facebook, and he won’t stop, he can’t stop, and honestly I don’t — I don’t know, my husband thinks I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he broke into my house and tried to hurt me.”
Sarah Boggs September 5, 2018 Problem Resolution document: Officer Boggs attributed the quote to Padgett. She dated her statement as taking place within the last four months.
Sarah Boggs: “I posted shit About Sheriff Johnson on Social Media. He (Sheriff) Called Robin to ask that I remove it. Robin said no. Johnson is such a f**king Idiot. HA HA HA HA HA HA.”
Kristofer Aho on October 24, 2018 testimony: In the interview, Aho expressed his distaste when Matt Padgett made public statements against Sheriff Scott Johnson.
Kristofer Aho: “Uh, the text message chain that he showed me to [sic] Sheriff Johnson . . . he’s the sheriff and I was told and I can’t say this – I wasn’t there to witness this, that Sheriff Johnson contacted Chief Souvenir and asked him to have Lieutenant Padgett stop this, uh – attack, I guess, and Chief Souvenir said, uh, he’s my officer and, you know, I’ll deal with it as I see fit, and told him he has constitutional rights to say what he believes.”
Chris Boggs on October 19, 2018 interview: At the end of the interview as the WSP investigator attempted to close out the session with the order not to discuss what he had talked about, Boggs said, “Oh – oh, one other thing.” And then made sure he included on the record the way that Padgett, “talks about the current sheriff on Facebook.”
Chris Boggs: “He’s made posts about the current sheriff and calling him a narcissist and a liar and – and just keeps going, badgering on Facebook posts, is very inappropriate. And embarrassing. Pretty much, so that – I – I can’t – because I worked for the sheriff. I was with the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office before I came to Shoalwater, and it’s – I can’t describe how embarrassing it is and how ashamed I am to wear the patch I have on my arm because of him.”
James Riley on October 30, 2018 email: James Riley wrote to Mike Rogers and HR Jesse Smith touching base with them about the Scott Johnson controversy among Shoalwater Bay police officers. Riley reminded them of their previous agreement to avoid, “questioning witnesses or the accused on this matter as we previously discussed.” To test the waters, Riley asked them for direction on whether he should investigate the Scott Johnson issue.
James Riley: “I continue to hear from those I have interviewed, and Lieutenant Padgett about potential allegations of misconduct and/or concerns involving the interaction between Sheriff Johnson and Lieutenant Padgett.”
Jesse Smith October 30, 2018 email: After consulting Mike Rogers and finding that the Tribal Administrator did not want to focus on Scott Johnson, Jesse Smith wrote Riley back.
Jesse Smith: “We also agree that at this point there is no need to involve this investigation with the other allegations of misconduct towards Sheriff Johnson by Lt Padgett.”