One of the surprises of the local November election was the victory by Richard Carter III, the GOP candidate for county auditor, over long-time incumbent Dorothy Stafford. He was an unknown and he didn’t really campaign much that I saw. He had no campaign committee, did not respond to the Post-Dispatch voter guide, and did not appear at the JeffCo Growth Association candidate forum. He did have a Facebook page, now taken down, but it only had 63 likes. Yet somehow he was victorious when other GOP candidates who campaigned hard fell short. Did you encounter his campaign or see any signs for him?
Well, the mystery of this man deepens. You see, a Ferguson cop made headlines in August for arresting two reporters at McDonald’s. It was later reported that this officer, Justin Cosma, previously worked as a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy, where he was sued over an incident where he allegedly hog-tied a 12-year-old boy in 2010. That suit was just settled, for a mere $4,500. I am told that the plaintiff contradicted some of his claims under deposition.
But there was another deputy present at the incident, who was also named in the lawsuit. His name: Richard Carter. According to the Post-Dispatch, this is the very same Richard Carter who was just elected auditor. His lawyer says Carter was hired by the JeffCo Sheriff’s Office in 2009 and left in June 2014 (just in time to run for auditor).
But here’s the thing: in the limited campaign materials I have seen, Carter never mentioned that he worked for the sheriff’s office! Here’s a bio he posted on Facebook:
Richard Carter III has announced his Republican candidacy for the Jefferson County Auditor. Richard is 27 years old from Crystal City, Missouri where he graduated in 2005. He later went to Jefferson College and Missouri Baptist University studying business administration and accounting. During his time at Missouri Baptist University, he achieved three president citation awards for a 4.0 GPA. Richard has been in a professional career for the past five years and strives to improve himself and surroundings. The goal for Richard is to provide his knowledge, education and leadership to Jefferson County as the auditor.
Richard has the following credentials:
-Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting 2014
-National Honor Society member
I guess his “professional career” was being a deputy, unless he had something else going on the side. In the Leader voter’s guide, published October 23, he also did not mention being a deputy. He said he was “employed as a business professional.”
Isn’t that weird? There were a number of candidates with ties to the sheriff’s office that ran for office, including Steven Bergner for county council, Gary Stout and Chris Borgerson for county executive, and Mike Reuter for circuit clerk. These candidates were more or less open about their employment as deputies. Why wasn’t Carter? Was it because of the lawsuit? I don’t know how widely this lawsuit was known about before Ferguson happened. The aforementioned Facebook information was posted way back in March.
This was quite deceptive of Carter to omit this work experience. And a lot of balls were dropped on this by local reporters (and me). Carter won his race by about 1,300 votes. Would the news of this lawsuit have changed the result if it had been widely reported? I doubt it. Cosma and Carter, of course, deny the allegations, so many probably would have given them the benefit of the doubt. Still, we’re going to have to keep an eye on this guy. I don’t really know what the county auditor does, but if the job involves any interaction with the sheriff’s office, that is an issue.