Florida candidates accuse sheriff of pushing them to withdraw from races

With a month left to go until Brevard County voters hit the polls this summer, a storm is brewing.

Two candidates running for office for the first time, retired school resource officer Shawn Overdorf and Cocoa police officer Chris Hattaway, both revealed details of phone calls they had with Brevard County’s top lawman, Sheriff Wayne Ivey.

They claim he pushed each of them to drop out of their races and throw support behind their opponents. All in exchange for guaranteed jobs working for their competition after the election.

"I have never run from a fight," said Chris Hattaway, a county commission candidate. "It was disheartening. The sheriff has a lot of influence, and I’m just here to do the right thing," 

Both represent a possible threat to candidates Ivey already endorsed. Hattaway faces Tom Goodson for county commission and Overdorf is up against Courtney Lewis for the school board.

"When a constitutional officer reaches out to anyone that has to run in a race and have a carrot dangle, maybe a job, maybe another office … to have that conversation, I feel that it's inappropriate," Hattaway added.

The candidates said they felt "disappointed" when Ivey called them in June asking them to consider dropping out, although neither of them is filing any charges against him.

Government watchdog organization Integrity Florida says if the claims are true, Ivey may be guilty of an abuse of office. That's an ethics violation, as well as criminal bribery.

"Somebody in that community should file a sworn complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics and let’s have this issue be investigated," said Ben Wilcox, Integrity Florida research director.

We reached out to Sheriff Ivey’s team to get their response, they tell us they do not have a comment at this time.