Chuck Williams

Chuck Williams: Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley broke the Internet

CHUCK WILLIAMS

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley is a little confused and humbled by all the fuss.

By now all of you — and many folks throughout the country — know that Jolley put up a sign in front of the sheriff’s office.

“WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you… LEAVE!”

What happened next, as the joke goes, broke the Internet. The Ledger-Enquirer wrote about Jolley’s sign on Tuesday and that story has received more than 225,000 page views.

The national media followed. Jolley appeared on Fox & Friends, the Fox News Network morning show. That video is approaching 1.5 million page views.

“I figured I would maybe get in the Harris County Journal or maybe the Columbus paper,” Jolley said.

A month earlier he had “In God We Trust” put on the back of about 30 Harris County Sheriff’s Office vehicles.

“That one didn’t even make the Harris County Journal,” he noted.

So, this 61-year-old, small-town sheriff, who governs a county of about 33,000 people, has become a national sensation. So much so that staff members for two of the presidential candidates have reached out to Jolley.

Who?

“I am not saying,” he said. “This is not political.”

But not everyone who is calling or writing Jolley agrees with his world view. He has also heard from those who don’t see it the same way he does.

“I respect that,” he said Monday. “I spent 20 years in the military to give people the right to disagree with me.”

But he isn’t backing down. If anything he is doubling down.

“I do believe if it truly offends you, maybe you are in the wrong place,” he said.

But he also said if ordered to, he will take the sign down.

“Now, I have told my county commissioners if we get an order from a judge to take it down, I will not cost the county any money,” Jolley said. “I never intended this to be a political statement. Will I take it down if I get a demand letter from some liberal organization? No. Will I take it down if one or two people in county don’t like it? No.”

Jolley paid the $553 cost of the sign out of his pocket. But those who agree with his sentiments have been showing their support through their checkbooks. More than $1,000 in small donations came in Monday from Illinois. Colorado. Florida and Alabama, among other places.

“I have had to open up a second bank account,” Jolley said. “I am not keeping the money. The money is going to be donated. I am going to give money to Scott’s Miracle Riders.”

Jolley has been a regular on Scott’s Miracle Ride, which has raised more than $1 million for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Now that is something on which we can all agree.

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