CANTON, Ga. — A Georgia sheriff seeking re-election said political foes are trying to smear him by circulating old photographs that show him dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes at a Halloween Party.
“I don’t think anyone who knows me is going to think anything of this,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison. “But it’s just sickening and it hurts my family.”
The photos, taken during the 1980s long before Garrison took office, were obtained by WSB-TV as the sheriff nears a July 31 primary.
Garrison admitted wearing a Klan robe and hood to a costume party but denied any affiliation with the group. He said he and a friend who also wore a KKK outfit were dressed as characters from the movie Blazing Saddles.
“I don’t deny it wasn’t stupid, looking back now,” Garrison said. “But there again I say what 21- or 22-year-old in this world hasn’t made some stupid mistakes?”
The sheriff said whoever is circulating the photos is doing so for “purely political” reasons in an effort to derail his re-election.
David Waters, the sheriff’s primary opponent, said somebody showed him the photos a year but that he chose to ignore them. Waters said he’s not the one circulating the photos, though he said they depict something about the sheriff’s character.
“It is a bad judgment call, and (that) type of clothing represents hate,” Waters said. “And I certainly don’t want any part of that.”
The Atlanta TV station did not reveal who provided it with the photos.
The sheriff said he hopes voters will more pay attention to his 20 years in office.
“I would just ask that they look at my honor and my integrity and the things we’ve done for this sheriff’s office,” he said.