S. E. Williams

When news broke early this month regarding Sheriff Chad Bianco’s 2014 membership in the anti- government militia group the Oath Keepers, it soon became clear he had no plans to denounce his association with the organization.  

However, he tried all the usual political public relations maneuvers to obfuscate from the significance of what his connection to the group says about who he really is, just as much as his ignoring their role in the January 6th insurrection and attempting to paint the Oath Keepers as patriots committed to upholding the Constitution, is an obvious attempt to muddy the waters regarding who they truly are.

His cocky and cavalier attitude is most probably rooted in the place he believes he has carved-out for himself among the catalogue of creeps, racists, rogues, and scoundrels, who have taken over the Republican Party, a position reinforced by the sheriff and police unions that paid a large part of his price of admission to the political game in the first place, not only because of their shared values but also because of his willingness to do their bidding.

“Nepotism is the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption.”

Daniel Alarcón

And just like the former president who spent four years fostering chaos while improving the fortunes of his own family, Bianco has taken the same approach and advantage here in Riverside County.

In other words, not only has our local sheriff embraced a Trump-ish ideology, but he has also sought to be a disruptor—in his quest for national attention—regarding in areas related to both COVID and criminal justice reforms. His spotlight seeking antics are well noted.

It is also fairly-well known that one of the sheriff’s brothers, Michael, also works in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. What is less known, however, is that  after Chad took office in 2019, Michael’s career took a sudden turn toward the positive.

Consider this—in 2018, Michael was a Sergeant in the department and his total compensation (including salary, overtime, benefits, and misc.) was $183,772, according to CalSalaries.   

After his brother Chad, was sworn in as sheriff in January 2019, Michael was plucked from a pool of—what  reliable sources identified as more qualified candidates—and promoted to the position of Lieutenant. And as a result, Michael’s total compensation jumped from $183,772 in 2018 to $244,607 in 2019—an increase of 33%.

California Salaries Data: Michael Bianco Riverside County 2018 and 2019

In 2019, Michael’s total compensation went from being 10 % lower than average sheriff’s sergeant b salary, to 7% higher as a Lieutenent—a 17% change; and from being 122 % higher than the average Riverside County salary in 2018, to being 160 % higher than the average Riverside County salary in 2019. Was this a demonstration of Bianco brotherly love?

Admittedly, a settled contract negotiation in December 2019 may have made some difference in dollars, yet, the fact that Chad, within months of being elected, would so openly promote his own brother over purportedly more qualified candidates, is another testament to his arrogance and blatant disregard for policy and protocol.

Within months of Chad Bianco taking office in 2019, his brother Michael was plucked from a pool of—what  reliable sources identified as more qualified candidates—and promoted to the position of lieutenant, significantly increasing Michael’s total annual compensation.

Fattening the wallet of one of his siblings is not the only area of concern over acts of nepotism by Chad Bianco. Reliable sources further confirm Bianco’s daughter is also now on the Sheriff Department’s payroll.

Doing what’s right

After a 2017 audit that found the California Board of Equalization had a large number of employees who had personal relationships with other BOE employees and worked in the same department or division, former Gov. Jerry Brown expanded the State Personnel Board’s authority to investigate nepotism and publish reports on its findings.

Locally, the Riverside County Sheriff Department’s own Standards Manual defines nepotism as, “The practice of showing favoritism to relatives over others in appointment, employment, promotion or advancement by any public official in a position to influence these personnel decisions.”

The manual further details, “Employees are prohibited from directly supervising, occupying a position in the line of supervision, or being directly supervised by any other employee who is a relative or with whom they are involved in a personal or business relationship.”

In addition, the manual clearly states, “Employees are prohibited from participating in, contributing to or recommending promotions, assignments, performance evaluations, transfers or other personnel decisions affecting an employee who is a relative . . .”

Like with every other “flaunting of authority” we’ve witnessed from Bianco, you should add nepotism to the list.

The coming election

Bianco is building a war chest of cash for his reelection campaign and probably feels invincible relative to winning reelection and staying on as Riverside County Sheriff beyond tin 2022.

Although the Daily Beast reports according to campaign finance records, “Bianco has raised over $500,000 for his reelection push, if Riverside residents believe as I do, that the county deserves a sheriff with the integrity, knowledge, skills and ability to lead the county’s central law enforcement agency forward in alignment with a vision of what equity in policing can be—we all know, Bianco is not that person. As a result, I believe his chances for reelection are slim regardless of how much money he raises.

The more we know,  the more we know Bianco must go.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager...