Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco sheriff's honorary deputies give generously to his campaign

Honorary deputies get a badge and ID, but have no arrest powers. The program is funded by outside contributions.


Honorary deputies get a badge and ID, but have no arrest powers. The program is funded by outside contributions.

In his bid for re-election, Pasco Sheriff Bob White has received a sizeable chunk of campaign money from a select group of citizens: his own honorary deputies.

Campaign records show that about half of White's 105 honorary deputies have donated a total of about $30,000 this election, accounting for a little more than 20 percent of the $136,000 he has raised so far. Many gave the maximum $500 individual contribution or donated through their businesses and with family members.

Honorary deputies have no arrest powers but are given a star badge and Sheriff's Office identification. White has said he chooses the deputies for their community service and ability to help out in a disaster, though none has been called into service since White created the program in 2003.

His spokesman said the program is not political.

"He does not deputize people on the amount of money they contributed," Kevin Doll said. "That's not the reason Sheriff White started the honorary deputy program."

This issue arose after White's election in 2004, when honorary deputies' donations accounted for a similar portion of his campaign war chest.

Then, he told the Times in an e-mail that the program doesn't cost taxpayers anything and the honorary deputies receive no benefit from tax dollars. The program is funded by outside contributions.

"They only get one-on-one recognition from me as Sheriff," White wrote. "They are free to give to anyone and be a part of any political affiliation they see fit."

Doll said those remarks hold true today.

"Generally people who are involved in their community give to a lot of different organizations and active politicians," Doll said.

Some decry program

On Monday, two of White's campaign opponents blasted the very existence of the program.

"Why does anyone other than a law enforcement officer need a badge and credentials from the Sheriff's Office?" asked Democrat Kim Bogart. "The implication is clear: The individual is a friend of the sheriff and should be given preferential treatment. There can be no other reason."

Robert Sullivan, who is challenging White in the Republican primary, called the program "an affront to every deputy that went through a police academy and puts their life on the line to carry a badge."

Doll said that's a misinterpretation.

"To try and paint this as something that's a stain upon active duty deputies, I think, is missing the point. No one is saying these are bona fide deputies with full law enforcement capabilities," Doll said. "And the sheriff makes that very plain to everybody he makes an honorary deputy.

"It's more like an honorary degree that universities give to people," he said, and added that such programs are common among law enforcement agencies.

Campaign records show that some of White's most generous contributors also carry the honorary deputy badge.

Hooters restaurant founder Lynn D. Stewart, along with his family members and businesses, gave White $2,000. Tom Dobies, owner of several funeral homes and chapels, bundled donations of some $3,000 through his businesses. Richard Bekesh, president of an architecture and engineering firm, gave $4,000 in bundled donations with his family members.

All are honorary deputies.

Wilton Simpson, who owns farming and construction businesses in east Pasco, became an honorary deputy about two years ago. In March, he donated $500 to the sheriff's campaign.

He said the two things are not connected.

"The sheriff has never asked me to give him money for anything. Obviously he's up for re-election, and he and I discussed me being part of his campaign for this go-around, and I agreed," Simpson said. "I think he's done a great job."

Scott McPherson, newly elected mayor of New Port Richey, also said in an e-mail Tuesday that the $1,200 in donations to White from himself, his wife and his law office were made independent of his designation as an honorary deputy.

He said he met White after helping organize a Rotary Club fundraiser that benefitted a Sheriff's Office charity. After that, McPherson wrote, White invited him to be an honorary deputy.

"To the best of my recollection, at that time, I had not donated a penny to his campaign. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that I was a registered Democrat (I have since become an Independent)," he wrote. "Additionally, there was NEVER even a remote mention of there being a condition of any kind attached to becoming an HD."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco sheriff's honorary deputies give generously to his campaign 04/21/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2008 3:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque


    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November


    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  3. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  4. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system


    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.


    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]