Indicted Rutherford sheriff won’t resign, plans to seek reelection

Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold intends to ignore calls for his resignation and remain in office despite facing federal charges, according to the Daily News Journal.

“On the record, I have no intentions of resigning,” Arnold said in a text message to a Daily News Journal reporter Saturday morning, the day after being brought into a federal courtroom in handcuffs.

Arnold, Joe Russell, the sheriff’s office chief over administration, and John Vanderveer, the sheriff’s uncle, face a 14-count indictment pertaining to profiting off the sale of JailCigs to inmates.

At a time when residents have started an online petition to oust Arnold as sheriff, he has presented himself as an innocent, although imperfect, elected official through an investigation that began more than a year ago and included FBI agents raiding his home.

Arnold sat down for an exclusive interview with a DNJ reporter Saturday morning. Although the sheriff refused to answer questions about the case against him, he did respond to personal questions and shared his plans for the future, which include running for re-election in 2018.

Since running for his seat as the Republican nominee in 2010 with 51.77 percent of the vote, Arnold has remained confident in facing accusations.

Arnold defeated longtime Democratic Sheriff Truman Jones in a year in which Republicans won all elections on the Rutherford County ballot.

The sheriff’s race in 2010 was contentious. Jones, through the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, attempted to block Arnold from being eligible for the election by asserting Arnold had not earned a standard high school diploma.

Arnold divulged then that he had dyslexia when he graduated with a special education diploma from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro in 1995. The Tennessee Commissioner of Education determined that Arnold had earned a valid diploma, thus making him qualified to be sheriff, Arnold recalled.

Note: Previously, the newspaper reported that Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, whose district includes portions of Rutherford County, had called for Arnold’s resignation. The indictment also prompted this emailed missive from Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini:

“From Washington, D.C. to Murfreesboro, Tennessee Republicans’ corruption goes from the top all the way to their roots. From Sen. Corker’s insider trading scandal to Governor Haslam awarding no-bid contracts to his friends to Sheriff Arnold using his position to line his own pockets, it’s clear Tennessee Republicans see our government as their personal piggy bank. Tennesseans are tired of being taken advantage of by Republicans at every level of government.”