Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has turned himself in to authorities, reports WJXT, on charges related to tampering with evidence, a felony, and false statements to officers investigating claims of abuse of power in an official capacity, both misdemeanors.
The action follows an ultimatum issued by a special prosecutor earlier on Thursday, telling Daniels he could either resign and never again seek public office or be arrested.
Daniels said he has no intention to resign, and he is on the ballot Tuesday in what is a six-way Republican primary, thus continuing an improbable trajectory of events around the first-term lawman.
For more than a year, Daniels has been under investigation over claims he compelled subordinates to carry out a false arrest of a woman with whom the Sheriff was having an affair. At all times he continued to serve in office, even as questions mounted.
As the investigation went forward, “major concerns” were expressed by the region’s leading legislators, Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings, both from Clay County
Yet Gov. Ron DeSantis stayed mum on the matter and allowed Daniels to remain in office.
As the probe slogged forward, a series of challengers emerged, filing to run against him in Tuesday’s primary. They sensed a vulnerability to exploit.
Daniels has faced fundraising challenges, especially in recent weeks.
The Sheriff, third in the fundraising derby with $90,757 raised through the end of July, lags behind Atlantic Beach Police Chief Michelle Cook, who has raised $164,975 and Mike Taylor, who raised $111,098.
However, he has used the power of incumbency and a knack for drawing headlines to create earned media moments to overcome the cash crunch.
As July began, the first-term Republican Sheriff brooked controversy with a challenge to Black Lives Matter protesters who may make their way to normally sleepy Clay County. He said he would deputize lawful gun owners.
“Somebody has to step up in front of the camera and say ‘enough is enough,’” said Daniels, vowing that “if we can’t handle you …. I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county.”