Embattled Clay Sheriff Darryl Daniels faces divorce filing
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels.

Darryl Daniels
Daniels often attacked Andrew Gillum on the trail.

The wife of Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has filed for divorce — a seeming result of months of coverage of an affair gone wrong for the first-term Republican.

Daniels’ wife, Denise, is claiming indigency in her filing. She asserts the marriage is irretrievably broken.

This is the latest negative development for Daniels, a charismatic Republican Sheriff who was a regional campaign surrogate for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Daniels is currently under FDLE investigation. Though DeSantis has thus far not made a move to suspend Daniels, Clay County lawmakers Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings have “major concerns” over the allegations.

The issue at hand: Daniels ordered the apprehension of his lover and former workplace subordinate, Cierra Smith.

Daniels accused her of “stalking” him — a charge that proved groundless.

The lawman strongly backed DeSantis during the 2018 general election. But in May, the Governor said he wouldn’t hesitate to act if events mandated.

“But if there’s anything I’ve shown in my short time as Governor, it’s being willing to hold people accountable regardless of party,” DeSantis added, noting he suspended the Republican Superintendent of Schools in Okaloosa County early in his term.

“I cleared out all of Rick Scott‘s appointees on the Water Management Board,” DeSantis continued. “If this rises to the level after I review it, we’re going to treat it like anybody else.”

With a confirmed FDLE investigation into their Sheriff, locals in Clay are awaiting a definitive statement, one way or another, from the Governor.

Attorney General Ashley Moody also benefited from Daniels’ support as a candidate but is deferring comment at this stage.

“FDLE is tasked with a full and comprehensive investigation as it relates to these allegations and until that investigation has concluded, our office will refrain from comment,” said spokesperson Lauren Schenone in June, the last time Moody’s office addressed this matter.

Regardless of where things ultimately fall with the Governor’s Office, Daniels already faces primary challengers for 2020.

Harold Rutledge, a former sergeant with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and a Clay County Commissioner, currently is executive director for the Florida Public Service Association.

Ben Carroll, a veteran of the Clay Sheriff’s Office and a former Police Chief, is the clubhouse leader with over $21,000 added to his account in June, his first campaign finance filing.

Other candidates are poised to announce in the coming days also.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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