For decades, there have been rumors and allegations of Sheriff David Beth using money from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) fund inappropriately. The County’s Judiciary and Law committee, Chaired by Supervisor Zach Rodriguez decided to investigate the many expenditures documented in the account.
Beth originally said in an email, “No one [Sheriff or his staff] will be attending a meeting held by the County Board for the D.A.R.E. program.” It was only after notice of the committee issuing subpoenas, that the Sheriff attended tonight’s meeting with other Sheriff’s department staff to answer questions. Notably missing, was failed Sheriff candidate Ray Rowe, who has run the D.A.R.E. program for the last few decades. The Sheriff would not allow Rowe to attend. The committee’s majority-conservative members bombarded the Sheriff with tough questions about what Finance Director Patti Merrill called “unusual [spending].”
Supervisor Brian Bashaw criticized the Sheriff for his poor fundraising practices. He pointed out that the annual golf outing only netted about 50% of the total expenditures. “Most consultants want to see under 33% [in expenditures]” said Bashaw. Bashaw said he put all of the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and found that the Kenosha D.A.R.E. program only spends about 12% – 23% ‘direct to student.’ “Do you have any comments as to these numbers?” Asked Bashaw. “No.” replied the Sheriff.
Supervisor Erin Decker had many questions like why Sheriff Beth:
Donated thousands to a non-profit called “Concerned Citizens Coalition” that he is the president of.
Spent thousands on DVD’s called “Computer Cop” which was supposed to teach kids about internet safety but she said ended up infecting computers with spyware.
Spent thousands on gifts for deputies. She said the gifts should have been paid for with Sheriff funds, not D.A.R.E. funds.
Spent thousands on upfitting two UTVs.
Spent $13,000 to fix a bus for a pastor friend of the Sheriff.
Gave the Sharing Center $5,000 for snacks.
Fellow democratic allies on the board, John Franco, Laura Belsky, and Jeff Wamboldt didn’t ask any questions of the Sheriff and seemed to be OK with the unusual spending. Supervisor Brian Thomas, who attended the meeting but isn’t on this committee brought up the D.A.R.E. mission statement on his cell phone, and said “While I won’t read the mission statement, theses things you are spending the money on don’t seem to align with the mission statement of D.A.R.E.” Thomas suggested a more organized way of spending the money.
Sheriff David Beth has less than four months left in his position. Beth suggested this probe was political in nature, but his hand-picked candidate, Ray Rowe was beat handily in the Republican primary by Sheriff’s Sgt. David Zoerner. Committee members denied political motivations and rumors of plans to eliminate the program.
Beth had alerted residents, some who attended this meeting, that members of the committee wanted D.A.R.E. scrapped. Decker and her husband Mike, who own Merlin Complete Auto Care, have made numerous donations to D.A.R.E. and took exception with Beth’s assertion. “My family supports the D.A.R.E. program with our voices and our wallets,” said Decker after the meeting.
Alleged Criminal Probe
KCE caught up with the Sheriff after the meeting, who tried to sneak out of the room though a back door. We had some questions for the Sheriff, who is allegedly the target of a criminal review by Milwaukee DA John Chisholm unrelated to the D.A.R.E. issues. The review was requested by the County’s lawyers and Kenosha DA Graveley asked the Milwaukee DA to review.
Here is a video of our interaction: (Note. I’m not always polite. I can be a dick – I was tonight. I’ve learned in elected life and as a government watchdog, I get very little success with being Mr. Nice Guy.)