News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, July 4, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- They publicly endorsed a political candidate for sheriff on behalf of the national organization of black law enforcement executives and were ultimately slapped with a cease and desist letter along with a retraction demand.
"We're saying that we made mistakes," said Waynesboro Chief Alfonzo Williams. "We're saying that we should not have endorsed a candidate using NOBLE as the backdrop for it, and we apologize to the folks on the national level for that."
Chief Williams was one of several who gathered claiming they had no idea the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization cannot and will not endorse any political candidate.
"You didn't do your homework?" we asked Williams.
"Well, in this case, we were misinformed and we were doing what we believed was right," Williams said. "At the end of the day, do we wish we had checked into it further? Sure."
It turns out their alleged Region 7 Georgia Chapter does not exist.
"We have learned that it's not region 7," Williams said, "but Area 7."
None of the men gathered were members of the organization because they failed to pay national dues.
"And you're not embarrassed by this?" we asked Williams.
"No," he replied, "It's an honest mistake. I think those folks who are intelligent will see through this. They'll see through this political mess and they'll realize that what we were doing is trying to do what we thought was right and that we just had some misinformation and they'll move on."
Cpt. Scott Peebles is the candidate at the center of the endorsement controversy.
"To have them put themselves out there for me like this, it is a big deal to me and I really am honored by it," Peebles said. "I'm the candidate and when guys come to you and say we want to endorse you, I'm open to that. I welcomed it. All of the other stuff that was going on, I had no idea about."