SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) --The Santa Clara County sheriff made a big move at the beginning of this month by paying for surveillance cameras out of her own pocket and placing them inside the county jail.
The next day a fight was captured on those cameras. That sparked a question as to whether it was a coincidence or political theater.
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That fight inside the county jail has started a political battle between the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Santa Clara County and Sheriff Laurie Smith.
The chairwoman of the Blue Ribbon Commission, retired judge LaDoris Cordell, raised questions about the timing of the fight the day after cameras were installed inside the jail.
Smith, a non-voting member of the commission was incensed.
In an email, the sheriff claims Cordell insinuated she allowed the brawl for political benefit and called it a lie.
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Now, the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Santa Clara County is stepping in, calling for an independent investigation by the county counsel into a private meeting the day before the jail fight.
In an email in response to Smith, Cordell says she met with Smith alone at a Palo Alto restaurant with the sheriff sharing information from a personnel investigation.
The judge also says Smith warned her if the commission recommended a change in leadership both deputy unions would have ammunition in her 2018 sheriff reelection campaign.
"With all the problems in the jails, that the sheriff wants to take time to meet with Judge Cordell in what appears to be a clear attempt in influencing the commission. This seems inconsistent with her claims of trying to institute reform at the same time she's trying to play politics," said Roger Wilson, with the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Santa Clara County.
In a statement, Sheriff Smith says the union is slinging mud and trying to protect the status quo. She went on to say: "Their accusations are untrue; I am focused on implementing meaningful reforms throughout our jail."
County counsel says they have no comment at this time.
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