Mower County Sheriff threatens lawsuit against county administrator
(ABC 6 News) – ABC 6 News has obtained new documents detailing accusations that Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik had been drunk on the job last fall and is threatening a lawsuit against the county administrator.
Back in November, at the request of Mower County Human Resources Director Kristina Kohn, a St. Paul law firm conducted an investigation into county employees, claiming that Sheriff Sandvik is was drunk and harassing employees while at work.
RELATED: UPDATE: Mower county sheriff diagnosed with PTSD, cleared to return to work
According to that report, there was no evidence that Sheriff Sandvik harassed any employees.
But there was evidence that the sheriff had been drinking.
Austin Police Department Captain Todd Clennon made that determination based off Sheriff Sandvik’s manner of speech, demeanor, blood shot eyes and the smell of alcohol.
Capt. Clennon advised Sheriff Sandvik that if he tried to drive home, he would be arrested.
Capt. Clennon also says he stands by everything written in that report.
“No employee or elected official should ever be drunk on the job,” Kristen Nelson, the Mower County Attorney said.
Following the November incident, Mower County administrator Trish Harren released a statement saying Sheriff Sandvik was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and would be taking a medical leave. The Sheriff just returned to work full-time in January.
In new documents obtained by ABC 6 News, Sheriff Sandvik is now threatening Administrator Harren with a lawsuit. His attorney sent a cease and desist letter to Harren, telling her to no longer release any data concerning him, his medical treatment or condition.
The sheriff threatens to seek $15,000 for each instance in which his “privacy rights have been violated.”
“Given the fact that that’s already been filed, I’d rather not comment,” Nelson said.
Now, both city and county officials are reflecting on these recent events, all of them choosing to stay off camera, some not even willing to go on the record.
Olmsted County District Attorney Mark Ostrem, an elected official himself, says he also will not comment on the Mower County Sheriff. But points out that when it comes to being drunk on the job, there is no policy handbook for elected officials.
“It’s not a great ethical decision to consume alcohol while you’re working, whether you’re elected or not. But, there’s nothing on the books that says as the county attorney thou shall not drink while I’m at work,” Ostrem said.
We reached out to Sheriff Sandvik as well as Administrator Harren but neither returned our call for comment.