Douglas County Commissioner Charles Jones is calling for Commissioner Jere McElhaney to avoid conducting county business with law enforcement and court offices.
Jones, the commission chairman, said McElhaney should recuse himself from dealing with offices of the Douglas County sheriff, district attorney and the courts while a domestic battery allegation against him is pending, except as appropriate in an emergency. Jones issued a written statement at the end of Wednesday night's commission meeting.
Jones said after the meeting that his intentions with the statement were relayed to McElhaney through County Administrator Craig Weinaug.
McElhaney, who wasn't at the meeting because of a last-minute family matter, was obviously angered by the statement when it was read to him over the phone by a Journal-World reporter. He said he did not know about the statement, which he described as politically motivated, and felt blindsided by it. He said he had no intention of recusing himself from any county business.
McElhaney and his wife were arrested during the weekend by Douglas County Sheriff's deputies who were called to investigate a domestic disturbance at their residence. Jere McElhaney himself made the call. Both were released from jail several hours later, and no charges have been filed. But the allegations are being reviewed by the Jefferson County Attorney's Office. Jefferson County will handle the matter because it involves a Douglas County official.
Jones' statement also says that the commission has an obligation to operate at the highest ethical and legal standards. He said he had asked the county counselor and administrator to make sure the county was handling the McElhaney matter in accordance with such standards.
McElhaney said Jones was out for political blood.
"Charles Jones knows I've been a fair and good commissioner," McElhaney said.
He also said he had received hundreds of messages and phone calls from people showing support for him and his family. He called the incident with his wife regrettable and said they were working through it. He said he expects to be held to a "10 times" higher level of accountability because he's a public official.
"I've attended the university of life and he's attended the University of Harvard, and there's a big, big difference," McElhaney said, referring to Jones.
After Wednesday night's meeting, Commissioner Bob Johnson called the McElhaney matter unfortunate, adding that he hoped it would be resolved satisfactorily for McElhaney and his family.
Jones said he had a "sense of sadness" over the incident.