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Some Sheriffs Still Advocating 'Constitutional Counties'

A southern Washington sheriff is still pushing the idea of his county's becoming a ‘constitutional’ county, two years after a resolution inflamed the community of Klickitat in 2021, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism reports. The measure aimed to prohibit the county from “infringing upon any constitutional rights,” chiefly those involving firearms. County commissioners didn’t move the resolution forward, in part because they believed it was government overreach. “As a sheriff, your only boss is the people that put you in office. It’s not the county commissioners, it’s not the governor, it’s not the state attorney general,” said Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer, who acknowledged commissioners’ control over his budget. “Your primary job is to guarantee the God-given rights of the Constitution to the citizens you serve.”

Songer is an advisory board member for the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA.) The group is labeled anti-government and extremist by national experts because it pushes an ideology that a sheriff’s power supersedes that of the state and federal government. At least two of them have become official CSPOA constitutional counties, a step that includes a $2,500 lifetime fee paid directly to the sheriffs group. The so-called constitutional county resolutions range from a simple reaffirmation of support for the constitutional rights of county residents to those that purport to empower local government, including sheriffs, to refuse to enforce state and federal laws they interpret as unconstitutional. “The constitutional county plays out beyond rhetoric in just creating fear,” said Klickitat County resident Lynn Mason. “Songer really pushes that division in this county.”


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