New accusations in McKenzie County Sheriff race

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McKENZIE COUNTY, N.D. - The race for sheriff in McKenzie County got a little more heated this week.

A McKenzie County Deputy, Matthew Johansen, is running against incumbent Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger. Johansen filed a complaint Tuesday with the McKenzie County States Attorney's Office, accusing Schwartzenberger of campaign violations.

In a press release, Johansen accuses Schwartzenberger of "releasing altered performance evaluations" of employees involved in the Johansen campaign, collecting petition signatures while wearing the sheriff uniform to intimidate citizens, and sending an explicit text about Johansen.

Johansen says in a statement, "It is unfortunate many of these instances have occurred, and because I have become more and more concerned, I have decided the truth must be revealed."

In response, Schwartzenberger's campaign has released a video where the sheriff addresses the accusation, saying, "This is clearly just another feeble attempt, yet again, to slander and defame me right before an election. They tried similar tactics before the primary. But the saddest part, is Matt is accusing me of something he did himself. Campaigning of any kind or participating in campaign related activities while in uniform and on the clock is illegal."

In the video, Schwartzenberger has what appears to be cell phone video of someone driving by Johansen in uniform, standing next to his deputy vehicle, talking with the driver of a vehicle also seen driving in a parade towing a Johansen campaign float.

Voters will decide who deserves the sheriff's seat Nov. 6.