Cooper pulls support for McClure

Retired sheriff says recent information ‘caused great concern’

Retired Blair County Sheriff Mitch Cooper has retracted his endorsement of Sam McClure in the race for Blair County sheriff.

Cooper has written a letter that will appear as a paid ad in Sunday’s Mirror explaining his reasons and said Friday that “the letter speaks for itself.”

Cooper said he struggled with the decision to place an ad, formatted as a letter to the citizens of Blair County, but saw no recourse given. He has talked to Acting Sheriff McClure and has asked him to remove any references to his previous endorsement from social media and campaign materials, but McClure has not honored his wishes.

“I just can’t support this man,” Cooper said Friday. “I feel strongly about this. This was done with a lot of thought. I just can’t support him.”

McClure, a former Altoona police officer who served as chief deputy prior to Cooper’s retirement in January, could not be reached for comment Friday night.

McClure’s Facebook page continued to reference Cooper’s endorsement of his candidacy as of Friday night.

Cooper’s letter doesn’t go into specifics, but only says Cooper received information that “has caused me great concern regarding Sheriff Sam McClure.”

The matter doesn’t involve an illegality, the letter notes. On Friday, Cooper would not say what he learned that led to his reversal of support. In the letter, Cooper writes the matter “does involve Sheriff McClure’s lack of character, honesty and integrity.”

The revocation of Cooper’s endorsement comes at the same time the Mirror has received information from several sources that McClure allegedly was placed on administrative leave at the sheriff’s department on Thursday.

Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. declined to confirm or deny McClure’s status when reached by phone Friday.

“A personnel decision was made involving one of our employees,” Beam said. “I cannot confirm or deny any particular employee.”

Efforts to reach Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb and Commissioner Terry Tomassetti on Friday evening were unsuccessful.

McClure announced his candidacy in August and is up against Duncansville Borough Police Chief Jim Ott in the May primary election.

Cooper’s full letter appears in Sunday’s edition of the Mirror.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.