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Politics / Issues

Gualtieri, Rice Get Personal in Debate for Pinellas Sheriff

Steve Newborn
Sheriff's candidates (from left) Bob Pound, Everett Rice, Scott Swope, and Bob Gualtieri

The four candidates for Pinellas County Sheriff squared off against each other in a debate last night. And the two Republican front-runners - the current sheriff and one of his predecessors - clearly don't care for each other.

Current Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and former Sheriff Everett Rice verbally jabbed at each other during much of the debate at a Clearwater church. Rice hammered away at an internal affairs investigations of the narcotics division, which resulted in the firing of several detectives.

" I think if you look between the ones who were fired and the ones under investigation," said Rice, "there's almost like a culture of corruption with some of the detectives."

Gualtieri, who took over in November for the retiring Jim Coats, says that's not true.

"What Everett says, is there's a culture of corruption - there's only four people who were involved in this - four," says Gualtieri. "And he says there's an ongoing investigation - he doesn't know. These are misstatements of fact. There is not one ongoing investigation right now."

Rice went to to say Gualtieri's claim that he rose through the ranks to become Sheriff was untrue; Gualtieri in turn says he's proud of the way he's climbed to the top of the department.

The winner of the August 14 Republican primary will face off against Democrat Scott Swope and write-in candidate Greg Pound.

To listen to the entire debate, click on the "Listen to the full, uncut debate" icon above.

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