JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — First Coast News has obtained documents from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office that lay out just how much access a high-powered GOP insider had to sheriff's office buildings as a private citizen.
Kent Stermon died by suicide Thursday evening, the Atlantic Beach Police Department confirmed. His death comes amidst questions about how much access and influence he had at JSO.
Documents outline Stermon's badge swipes from the beginning of 2017. Up until five days before current Sheriff T.K. Waters took office. Stermon was there at once a week for the last five years, according to the documents.
A majority of the swipes happened at the Downtown Jacksonville sheriff's office building, but the record indicates some of the swipes are also at JSO substations and at the Montgomery Correctional Facility on the Northside.
First Coast News reached out to former sheriff Mike Williams about the access Stermon had to the building while he was in office.
We have not yet heard back from him.
Just a few days before his death, Stermon was mentioned in a Twitter feud between local lawyer John Phillips and Mayor Lenny Curry. Phillips claimed in a tweet that Stermon had "unfettered badge access at JSO" as a private citizen.
In a since deleted tweet, Curry fired back, calling Stermon a friend.
"You aren't worth a reply as you are a media whore with no compass. But you mention my friend, Kent, and I am compelled to reply. Pound sand, chump."
This prompted First Coast News to request badge access records for Stermon.
Stermon was also under investigation by JSO in the weeks before his suicide over allegations of sexual misconduct, according to multiple law enforcement sources.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters issued a statement on Friday afternoon confirming the investigation, but did not say what the nature of the investigation was.
In his statement, Waters said, “Mr. Stermon was the subject of an active investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which began a few weeks prior to his death. This investigation remains ongoing at this time and will continue until its completion. As with all active investigations, there is limited information available to release at this time. However, as soon as this investigation has been completed, all applicable information will be available for release to the public.”
First Coast News is working to find more information about the investigation.
Stermon was the president of Total Military Management as well as a GOP kingmaker, seen as the conduit between Jacksonville politics and Tallahassee.