Local Sheriff under ethics investigation speaks out

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber is speaking out.

The Sheriff is under investigation by the State Ethics Commission, for potential nepotism.

Back in June, a Klamath County Commissioner filed a state ethics complaint against Sheriff Chris Kaber for appointing his son, who also works at the Sheriff’s Office, to another position.

But Sheriff Kaber says that this was a lateral move and feels what he did was right for the community.

Sheriff Chris Kaber said,

“The Board of Commissioners and the Human Resources Department here believe that they have some authority over my office and my deputies that I do not believe they have.”

He says his Office’s detective’s division was “deteriorating” when there was no supervisor.

Sheriff Kaber said,

“I even had detectives tell me that they were planning on leaving because it worked better when they had a direct supervisor. They were finding other opportunities for jobs.”

That’s when Sheriff Kaber reassigned his son, Sergeant Ryan Kaber, to take up the role that he previously had.

Sheriff Kaber said,

“He was absolutely the most qualified person our office had at the time to do that. There was no promotion. There was no extra money that I was authorizing. There was none of that.”

But the move prompted Klamath County Commissioners to ask the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to look into the matter.

Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot told KOBI, earlier this fall, he said that this reassignment violated their agreement where the Kabers could work in the same agency, so long as there was no supervising.

Derrick Degroot said,

“The only reason that they were allowed to be within the same department is the resolution granting the exception that was made by the Board of Commissioners and unfortunately the spirit of that agreement wasn’t followed.”

Klamath County Commissioners disagreed with Sheriff Kaber’s choice.

They said a 4% clothing stipend that comes with the position is technically a financial gain, even if Ryan Kaber rejected the allowance, there should still be no relative supervision.

Degroot said,

“You can’t have any direct or indirect supervision of a family member. Period. It’s not allowed. This is an extremely unfortunate position; the sheriff has made choices that has left the Board of Commissioners without the choices.”

The Kabers were all issued letters from the county Human Resources Department, that notified that their benefits would expire on December 27th, if they didn’t make changes.

Sheriff Kaber said,

“I either resign, or they’re being asked to resign. Well, I’m telling you they’re not resigning, so it’s not really a resignation. It’s a forced termination of their employment.”

Sheriff Kaber says he stands by his actions.

He says its best for the community that the detective’s division is run as efficiently as possible.

With no one overseeing it, he says the division now only consists of one detective.

Sheriff Kaber said,

“It never even took place, because within an hour of me hearing that this is what it is being viewed as, I returned that decision back over to my captain and my captain made the decision to leave him there. So, at best it was an attempted ethical violation.”

A rally was held by supporters of the Kaber family at the Klamath County Government Center.

The State Ethics Commission is expected to make its decision on the case by next February.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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