San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 13th, 2010
Sheriff’s race turns ugly with domestic violence claim [PRO]


The race for Hays County’s top law enforcement office took a public turn for the ugly this week when an audience member at a candidate forum accused Sheriff Tommy Ratliff of breaking his ex-wife’s collar bone during an altercation more than 20 years ago.

Walter Kinney, a Dripping Springs resident whose wife Linda Kinney is a recent Hays GOP chair, lobbed the accusation before a crowd of hundreds during Ratliff’s debate with Republican nominee Gary Cutler at a San Marcos Area League of Women Voters event on Monday.

Taking the microphone during an open question and answer period, Kinney said, “It has been … confirmed that you were involved in an altercation with your ex-wife, that she sustained a broken shoulder and was sent to the hospital, and that you were subsequently transferred out of Pampa, Texas, and reassigned to Central Texas. My question is, how can you expect the voters of Hays County to support you … with this type of background?”

Calling it a “complete lie,” Ratliff forcefully denied the charge several times, even returning to the subject during his response to an unrelated question. Ratliff did not return messages left for him at the sheriff’s office on Tuesday.

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19 thoughts on “Sheriff’s race turns ugly with domestic violence claim [PRO]

  1. Well the cat is finally out of the bag. The worst kept secret in Hays County is finally seeing the light of day. Im glad a witness has come forward to confirm what many already knew. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Now we know why he did not answer the question when asked. Because it is true.

    Lets see what else we can learn about Ratliff’s temporary stint as Sheriff.

    He was appointed by a democratic comissioners court.

    He submitted a budget increasing it by 40% in this time of a recession when everyone is cutting budgets or begging to remain at constistent levels.

    He hired a friend from Guandalpue County who had been arrested and charged and plead guilty/no contest to a felony of tampering with evidence when he was a cop. And Ratliff made him a Lieutenant and put him in charge of the evidence room and investigations! The Lieutenant had now sued the County after he was either fired or quit because his credibility was questioned. Imagine that.

    Ratliff was accused of domestic violence against his then wife while he was a Texas Ranger. He was transfered across the State back to Austin and demoted from Ranger to analyst. If it did not happen, why transfer him and demote him???

    He caused the City of Buda to terminate a contract with Hays County for law enforcement services after he bungled a personnel issue/personal issue he had with Captain Bo Kidd. Bo is now the Chief for Buda and is doing great things and the Sheriff’s dept lost 8 veteran deputies who jumped ship and went to work for Buda. And those 8 positions have not been filled meaning there are fewer deputies working protecting you and me.

    He has strained if not destroyed relationships with many local agencies and municipalities.

    The jail failed three inspections and the kitchen was shut down.

    He hired a first line supervisor-sergeant from outside the agency without giving any tenured, devoted Sheriff dept employees a chance to test or interview for the position.

    and finally,

    He was reportedly ejected from one of his own children’s soccor games at a tournament in San Antonio last year for yelling, screaming and berating the referees. He reportedly had to be escorted from the side lines and the children’s game was stopped until he left the field.

    Is this really the kind of Sheriff we want in Hays County? Ratliff has no business being Sheriff.

  2. What I like about the Sheriff’s Office is that the boss is usually elected. I hope Cutler isn’t the same run-of-the-mill law enforcement type that this Rat-guy is.

  3. I am getting sick and tired of this kind of attack. I am now hearing that people on the left are about to attack Dr. Cobb with rumors that don’t need to be raised. I really wished that people would stick to the issues. This is a campaign about what’s right for our county and where we need to go as a community. I am tired of these attack politics from the left and the right. Please folks let’s stick to the issues that really affect Hays County and not what happened years ago.

  4. I say, when the clouds finally clear, the true winner of Hays County Sheriff will prevail at the end. The one who is more deserving than other. One who actually thinks about the issues in Hays County rather than himself.

  5. I was at that “debate” and didn’t find it very productive. Most people in the audience were there to make their points, not learn about the candidates. I don’t see what importance an incident 20 years ago has on the Hays county sheriff’s election in 2010. I’m probably leaning toward voting for Cutler, but his ideas of fixing the jail’s problems by using convict labor didn’t really sound to me like a well thought out plan.

  6. Well an incident was 20 years ago has the logic such we should let Charles Manson out of prison. 20 years ago hey it’s OK he only did it once…..and no more. Since you do not care about women how do u feel about animals? how about the time he beat his horse with his belt b/c it crow hopped. That terrified horse knew he was fixin to get whipped when Tommy got out of the saddle. There no stopping the rage and frenzy until his arm got worn out.

  7. Leslie,

    I suppose with you, a criminal is never rehabilitated, no matter the crime. I don’t know the whole story about Ratliff’s supposed abuse 20 years ago, so I’m not going to assume the worst about him. I’m leaning Cutler because Ratliff’s attitude and ideas toward the sheriff’s office don’t appeal to me that much, but Cutler’s ideas aren’t exactly great. Frankly I think we have 2 poor choices in this race.

  8. The Austin American Statesman found on record to support the accusation by Kinney. Wally Kinney provided no support for his accusation. No one has stepped forward with any credible documentation supporting the Kinney accusation.

    Does anyone other than me view Kinney’s unsupported accusation as being anything more than a cheap political ploy to gain votes for Sheriff Ratliff’s opponent?

    Our democracy is in deep trouble if opponents can make unsubstantiated allegations for political gain and voters go for it.

  9. Charles it happened. why dont you with all your free time file an foi with lubbock pd for records about ratliff and ms harral from 1988. then post it for all us to see. best way i know to show that you know it all cause if your right there will be no records. but problem is your wrong and you will get records

  10. Mr. O’Dell says:
    “Our democracy is in deep trouble if opponents can make unsubstantiated allegations for political gain and voters go for it.”

    Isn’t that exactly what YOU do?

    Perhaps you are beginning to regret your past actions. That would be a good start.

  11. Lubbock knows the truth,

    You are making the claim—I would have thought that you had already filed an open records request and had the evidence. Why not share it with everyone if you have evidence to support your claim?

    Don’t make the claim and then ask me to try and support it. Where’s the beef Lubbock?

  12. All the while we’re arguing about whether or not this claim is true, no one is discussing the candidates’ actual positions on how the sheriff’s office should be handled.

    IF there are records the AAS probably would have found them. Any competent journalist would have searched those records. Ratliff may or may not have engaged in some domestic abuse in the past, but there’s no proof as yet. This is distracting from the real issues at hand. I want to know what was the real problem was with the jail and I don’t think Cutler’s plan to use convict labor will fix it.

    I agree with Charles that our democracy is in serious jeopardy if this is how voters base their decision.

  13. well lets go back to some other stuff. such as hiring a felon for evidence man? how about that man now suing the county? how about posting a budget 40 % higher than last years. how about his total lack of experience as a supervisor? How about his obsession over the jail? causing it to fail inspection to promote a brand new one.the records do not exist for 2 reasons first is time and second is the blue about the Buda fiasco? He was never elected into office. He got the job for reasons other than qualifications. knowing him I can with all honesty say he has a bad temper. bad tempers lead to mistakes in decision making. he has proven that. all that being said I am going disrespect the man as you have his opponent only i am going to stick to the facts the guy has real small hands.

  14. O’dell your right. Hang on it will come. i’m sure the rangers tranferred him from Lubbock and demoted him from ranger for absolutely no reason. he has not denied that at all! how about getting ejected from his kids soccor games for being out of control? how about the cop who was charged with tampering with evidence and plead guilty in uvlade and ratliff hired him as a lieuntenat and put him in charge of the evidence room? now he is suing the county. how about losing 8 deputies to Buda because he cant get along with anybody? how about a 40% increase in his budget this year? how about 2 deputies working narcotics on the highway instead of working in our neighborhoods catching people breaking into our houses? how about him having no supervisory or management experience and running the department into the ground? should I continue?????

  15. I could tell he had a temper from the debate. Cutler probably is the better choice, but not that much better. Obviously Ratliff didn’t handle the jail issue well, but this whole thing is much too personal.

  16. In regards to sticking with the issues that deal with running a Sheriff’s Office instead of the other stuff that doesn’t seem to matter to some…
    Okay, how he’s handled Buda, hiring, firing, promoting, discipline, and just everyday management of his employees has the entire agency walking on egg shells.
    Everyone is afraid for their jobs. No one dares come out and say anything or suffer the wrath of the Sheriff and his Chief Deputy.
    The Sheriff’s Office can not function efficiently under this type of mismanagement and temper tantrum. It’d be nice to have someone back in office who inspired the officers there instead of oppressed them. It’d be nice to have a Sheriff’s Office that was focused on being proactive against crime instead of preserving their jobs and not agitating “the boss”.

  17. Well, I guess the voters of Hays County have spoken. We finally have an elected Sheriff again, not one appointed by the “use to be” democratic commissioners court. I bet the Hays County Sheriff’s Office employees will be at more ease when they go to work on Wednesday morning.

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