Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, whose office is under a civil rights investigation by the state attorney general, on Thursday announced she is retiring at the end of her current term next January rather than seeking reelection.
Smith, who started with the Sheriff's Office in 1973 and has been sheriff for the last 24 years, wrote a letter to the county's residents announcing her retirement and calling attacks against her tenure as "specious attempts by unsavory political opponents in retribution for serving the public with honor."
State Attorney General Rob Bonta earlier this year announced he was opening the civil rights investigation into the Sheriff's Office over allegations that included misconduct in county jails and resistance to oversight.
Last August, the county's Board of Supervisors gave Smith a unanimous vote of no confidence, citing alleged jail mismanagement, a "pay-to-play" scheme involving gun permits issued by her office and the death or serious injury of inmates.
Smith, in her letter Thursday, wrote, "The truth and evidence is absolutely clear. I have always served the people of Santa Clara County and have never engaged in any behavior that would warrant the media animus, false legal narrative, or political attacks currently in the public domain."
She added, "My plight is no different and I am confident history will show the first elected woman Sheriff to serve in California was not only honorable — but her accomplishments will speak far louder and be remembered longer than the false stories that will be repudiated by truth. I believe in truth."