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Sheriff Probe Update: HR investigator defends bullying report

Posted at 11:34 PM, Nov 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-07 12:23:40-05
The continuing controversy over who holds the Pima County sheriff accountable regarding claims of misconduct made by department employees. 
 
After weeks of investigating this question, we still don't have an answer. All this surfaced after the union president accused Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos of workplace bullying -- managing by threats and intimidation.
 
He filed a complaint against Nanos and the County HR department took up the complaint. The investigator, Mike Tully, found Nanos bullied the union president, but the deputy county administrator said Tully was biased.  
 
The investigator came forward to KGUN9 to defend himself. "I've never done a biased investigation," he said.
 
Tully said outside Pima County and not once has his findings been overturned. So when Deputy County Administrator Tom Burke wrote Tully's investigation was "not conducted in a neutral fashion" and Tully was "biased in his lines of questioning," Tully fired back.
 

"For someone to take a gratuitous and irresponsible and inaccurate shot at me and impugn my reputation and integrity, it's a situation I can't tolerate. I can't sit still for that and that's why I came forward," said 

Burke wrote: he listened to the taped interviews and "many of the questions were leading" and Tully "suggested answers to the witnesses."

 
Cavazos: Was that the case?
Tully: We can ask leading questions. If a witness gives an answer that I don't fully understand I might rephrase it and say are you trying to say this -- so I'll ask leading questions not to suggest the answer, but to understand the answer. That's what Mr. Burke doesn't get.
 
Tully said he's not only an expert in bullying issues , he wrote the workplace bullying policy for Pima County. "It was my policy. I wrote it. Tom Burke was not part of that process. He's not been part of any training we had on the bullying policy. He's not been part of any investigation. He does not know what he's talking about," he said.
 
Tully also questions why his report, which was completed mid-July, stalled for 3 months.  He said the process usually only takes one to three weeks. "We've never had one just frozen in time the way this one was," said Tully.
 
It's been a months-long divisive dispute involving an incumbent sheriff that's turned into a controversy that neither Tully nor Burke want to be involved in. Tully said accusations against county elected officials, like the sheriff, should be handled by an outside independent investigator. "It's totally inappropriate for us to be doing this," he said.
 
Tully said he investigated whether other Arizona counties have protocols in place that provides oversight of elected officials. "They had none. Their answer basically was investigate elected officials? Are you kidding us? Of course. we don't do that," he said.
 
But Tully believes some kind of system of accountability is needed at least in Pima County. "This has gone totally wrong. We've got to think this through and not make this mistake again," he said.
 
KGUN9 once again reached out to Tom Burke and Chuck Huckleberry to request an interview or response. And once again they had no comment.
 
We'll continue to investigate and follow any developments.