The Oregon Department of Justice announced its investigation into complaints about Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer revealed no evidence of criminal conduct.
At least eight people sent formal complaints about Palmer to Oregon’s police licensing agency after he met with people who participated in the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. The agency forwarded the complaints to the Department of Justice, recommending an investigation.
Most of the complaints focused on Palmer’s involvement with the refuge occupiers, after Palmer met with three occupiers and the president of a militia group in John Day in January 2016. A complaint from John Day Police Chief Richard Gray also accused Palmer of destroying a public record, and an anonymous complaint accused Palmer of issuing concealed handgun licenses to out-of-state residents.
Department of Justice Chief Counsel Michael Slauson said in an Oct. 10 letter to Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter the department had reviewed all complaints submitted but limited the scope of its investigation to allegations involving potentially criminal conduct, specifically whether Palmer destroyed public records or issued concealed handgun licenses unlawfully.
The investigation found “insufficient evidence” Palmer destroyed public records, Slauson said, and “the evidence does not support a conclusion” Palmer violated state concealed handgun license laws.
“The scope of our investigation was limited to potentially criminal matters,” Slauson said in the letter. “Accordingly, we offer no opinion regarding whether Sheriff Palmer complied with relevant county policies or public record retention laws; rather, our investigation simply has not revealed concrete evidence of criminal conduct.”
Slauson said the department interviewed witnesses, reviewed records and policies, examined forensically reconstructed shredded documents and reviewed court documents from The Oregonian newspaper’s public records lawsuit against Palmer and the sheriff’s office. The lawsuit was dismissed once Palmer produced the records after the suit was initiated, but the judge ordered Palmer to pay $28,000 in attorney fees to The Oregonian.
Palmer and Gray did not immediately respond to phone and email messages from the Eagle.