Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold says he didn't fire former Detective Jim Tramel, now a sheriff's candidate, for political reasons in June 2013.
But Tramel's troubles began that May when he told the sheriff he intended to run for office and when Arnold became suspicious that the detective was bad-mouthing the sheriff's office and leaking information to the press, according to court documents.
Ultimately, Tramel was terminated over allegations he made sexually harassing statements, although a June 6, 2013 report of action says he failed to maintain a satisfactory and harmonious relationship with fellow employees.
In a deposition Arnold gave in January for a federal lawsuit filed by Tramel over his firing, the first-term sheriff says, "there was never a termination for politicalness. There was never a - he was terminated because he failed to appeal the decision that was made. So, therefore, he accepted the decision because he would never be terminated for politicalness, as his former partner, Ralph Mayercik, nor Barry Jones was ever terminated, the former sheriff's son. You know, I've always kept the politics out of the sheriff's office in the fact of wanting to terminate somebody."