JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Thanks, but no thanks. That's the word from Jackson County Sheriff candidate Mike Ezell to former sheriff and convicted felon Mike Byrd. The Mississippi Department of Corrections is looking into accusations that Byrd allegedly intimidated and threatened deputies to endorse Ezell in the upcoming election for sheriff.
Candidate Mike Ezell is getting a lot of attention these days. Some of it is for the wrong reasons, and he's not happy about it.
"I don't need anybody to get out there and endorse me and try to make trouble for me," Ezell said.
The alleged troublemaker is former sheriff Mike Byrd who is currently on house arrest after being convicted of state and federal crimes. Interim Sheriff Charles Britt recently sent a letter to the state department of corrections and contacted Ezell about Byrd reportedly calling sheriff's department employees to get them to endorse Ezell in the November election.
"He [Sheriff Britt] told me that former sheriff Byrd had contacted one of his employees and it was a very negative conversation," Ezell said.
Sheriff Britt said when the employee refused Byrd's request, Byrd began making threats that verged on criminal misconduct and could be considered a parole violation.
"I assured Sheriff Britt that I had no part of it, nor do I endorse any of that," Ezell said.
Ezell did admit to WLOX he and Byrd are somewhat related.
"It is somehow through marriage and distant cousins. I couldn't tell you the exact family tree on that," Ezell said.
Still, Ezell claims he never asked Byrd to help his campaign in any way and frankly, he doesn't need that kind of help.
"Mike Byrd is no longer involved in police business. Mike Byrd is not involved in my campaign, and we have our own campaign."
The longtime law enforcer said he will continue focusing on the election and distancing himself from this controversy and the Mike Byrd drama.
"I have a record of service to this county for over 30 years. I have a clean record. This is not a controversy to me; We are maintaining our straightforward message of professionalism. If other people want to start a controversy, that is on them, not on me. We are working hard and will stay the course," said Ezell.
Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence sent an email to WLOX this evening regarding Byrd's alleged actions. He said it's up to the department of corrections to determine if Byrd violated his parole. Lawrence went on to say that Sheriff Britt's letter did not include enough evidence to charge Byrd with a new crime.