Ex-sheriff seeks unemployment

January 22, 2009 1:14:42 PM PST
After losing his bid for re-election last year, Hood County Sheriff Gene Mayo apparently viewed the results as a firing and is seeking unemployment benefits. His application for benefits lists "lost election/fired," county officials said. They say such a listing is something they have rarely, if ever, seen from an elected official.

"Our lawyers could not recall it happening," Elna Christopher, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of Counties, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for its Thursday online editions. "When you are elected, you are elected for a certain amount of time. That term ended."

The claim may not go far. A spokeswoman with the Texas Workforce Commission said Wednesday that all individual claims are confidential, but pointed to Section 201.063 of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act, which states that "employment" does not include a member of a legislative body, the judiciary or "an elected official."

Mayo, elected in 2004, earned $67,925 as sheriff, according to county records. A phone number for Mayo in Hood County could not immediately be found Thursday.

The new Hood County sheriff, Roger Deeds, said he received Mayo's unemployment application about two weeks ago.

"I can't say it was something I was expecting," Deeds said.

The county's personnel office has processed the application and is awaiting official word from the workforce commission on whether the former sheriff is eligible for benefits, said Robert Blessing, the county's director of personnel. Once rulings are made, employers and applicants have the option of appealing them.

The workforce commission says that for those who are approved, unemployment benefits are capped at $392 a week.

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