Drinking allegation clouds campaign | NevadaAppeal.com

Drinking allegation clouds campaign

F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

An incident in which a Carson City sheriff’s candidate was stopped by a deputy who may have thought he was driving under the influence has become a behind-the-scenes issue in the hotly contested race.

Candidate Ken Furlong, a state public safety agency investigator, was pulled over by Carson City Sheriff’s Department deputies Glenn Fair and Jerrod Adams on Sept. 28 at 2:05 a.m.

Fair received a cell phone call from off-duty deputies Don Gibson and Mike Fischer who said they’d seen Furlong consume drinks over the course of three hours at Red’s Old 395 Grill, Gibson said.

According to the dispatch log, Furlong was stopped at Northridge Drive and Roop Street.

He was found to not be drunk after the deputy performed a preliminary test, which checks for involuntary eye movement — a sign of alcohol intoxication, said sheriff’s Lt. Ray Saylo.

At 2:08 a.m. Furlong was allowed to go.

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Furlong, who at the restaurant after a ball game, said he had only one drink that night. He said he sees the issue as Guimont supporters attempting to muddy his name two weeks before the general election.

“It’s just horrible things have to be this way,” he said, calling the allegation “ridiculous.” Furlong said he doesn’t believe Guimont is behind the suspected attempt to discredit him.

“This is the only scar on an otherwise clean campaign,” Furlong said.

Gibson disputes the characterization that his coming forward was politically motivated.

“I saw approximately two or three pitchers going to Furlong’s table. He looked pretty tore up when we got there at 11:30 p.m.,” said Gibson, a two-year member of the sheriff’s department.

He said Furlong, wearing a campaign hat with his name on it, “stumbled” from the bar and that the off-duty officers were told by several people they thought Furlong was too drunk to drive.

“We’re not out to get this guy. We’re not trying to ruin his political career,” said Gibson, a Guimont supporter. “We didn’t come out publicly because we didn’t want it to reflect on Bob, but after Furlong lied during the forum, we had to tell the truth.”

During a forum Sept. 29 hosted by the Carson City Sheriff’s Protective Association, which endorsed Guimont, Furlong was asked about the incident and if there was alcohol involved.

He responded with one word, “No.”

His response was misleading, Gibson contends.

“I watched him drink. He was pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving,” he said. “The answer should have been yes. He didn’t come clean with the situation.”

But Furlong disagrees.

“It was not alcohol related. I wasn’t intoxicated,” he said.

Guimont said he doesn’t support or encourage anyone to follow Furlong around.

“I’m not happy that this story is running, but I do understand the deputies’ frustrations and I know the deputies at Red’s at the time were upset with the way they perceived the situation went down,” he said. “But I refuse to sling mud. I am running a clean campaign.”

Furlong said the following day he complained to Undersheriff Bill Callahan about the incident.

“The circumstances surrounding that stop were very, very suspicious to me,” Furlong said. “The officers stopped me, did not do a field sobriety test and did not ask me for anything you’d expect to be normal for a traffic stop.

“I did not ask Callahan to discipline anyone. I asked that he look into it and he did. I don’t know what the results of his inquiry have been or are going to be. That’s his responsibility.”

Saylo said the stop could have been more “by the book.”

“This has a lot of abnormalities to it, but nothing to indicate there was an actual problem with the traffic stop,” he said. “We aren’t really happy with the reporting of it. We’d rather off-duty officers go through dispatch, but this traffic stop does not indicate that Furlong’s being targeted by the department.”