Two of the three chief deputies for Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton, Tim Moore and Jason Gates, sent a sent a letter May 19 to the county seeking protection from Staton in a pending county human resources investigation.

"Moore and Gates have direct knowledge of Sheriff Staton's workplace conduct," says the letter from Holly Lloyd, the chief deputies' attorney. "Although they will cooperate with the investigation, Mr. Moore and Mr. Gates fear retaliation from Sheriff Staton. Sheriff Staton has engaged in increasingly erratic behavior, has threatened loss of employment to each member of his Command Staff on multiple occasions, and has also personally threatened to personally sue each member."

The two chief deputies have long been close to Staton: Moore has been his right hand man, while Gates was until recently Staton's designated successor until the sheriff last month named former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese his new designee.

A third former chief deputy, Linda Yankee, already settled a tort claim notice for harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behavior on Staton's part at a cost of about $300,000 to Staton's agency.

The new letter follows months of bad news for Staton, including the furor last week over the fully-loaded car he directed his staff buy in violation of county policy and calls for Staton's resignation from two sheriff's office unions. Staton agreed to surrender the car.

Staton's spokesman said the sheriff had not yet seen Moore and Gates' letter. County spokesman Dave Austin says the county doesn't comment on pending investigations.

In a related development, the state-wide executive committee of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees will hold a press conference this morning urging Staton to leave office. The chapter of the union that represents Multnomoh County employees, including more than 100 non-sworn members of Staton's office, earlier called on the sheriff to resign.

"Oregon AFSCME's Executive Committee has voted to call for the resignation of Sheriff Staton," AFSCME spokesman Ross Grami said in a statement yesterday. "Our members, our brothers and sisters of the deputy's association, and our community deserve better. It is time for the Sheriff to step down."