Who should know the law better than the lawman, the police chief or sheriff charged with enforcing it?
Speaking of lawmen, St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson, who was formerly police chief of Cahokia, has a history of applying the law loosely to himself.
Following revelations that a county election clerk had for years filed election reports for him during office hours, Watson announced that he would seek guidance from the State’s Attorney on how to handle the matter, prompting guffaws from his Republican opponent in the upcoming election.
“What kind of nonsense is this from the Sheriff?” asked former Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Gailius. “He claims not to know the election laws, although he is one of three members of St. Clair County’s voter integrity team. . . . The State’s Attorney still has to give him taxpayer-funded advice on how to run a clean campaign?”
Watson has also come under fire for allegedly using jail resources and jail phone numbers to solicit campaign donations, and he’s been accused of harassing employees for political activities (contra Watson) engaged in on their own time.
For those who may not know what Cahokia Mounds is, that’s the sweet pension deal Watson got when he moved up from chief to sheriff, his benefits mysteriously elevated by 33 percent during his last 35 days in office.
By the end of his second year of retirement, he had already received more in benefits than he had contributed to the fund. Over the last seven years, he has earned nearly $200,000 more than he would have if his pension had been based on his “last salary” prior to the extravagant last-minute increase.
Watson’s benefit for this year is $117,502.04. Added to his $98,776 salary as sheriff, that makes mounds of cash for this lawman.