JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News has uncovered new email and text messages from public defender Matt Shirk.
The elected leader is accused of inappropriate behavior with his staff, including drinking in the office, questionable hirings and firings, and questionable use of taxpayer money which include building an office shower.
Action News has been investigating Shirk since summer. He's dodged our cameras and questions for the past seven weeks, but he can't dodge our public records request.
Lynnsey Gardner obtained text messages between Shirk and his chief investigator Alton Kelly Wednesday.
Kelly and a second investigator, Greg Strickland, said they both jumped ship because it was sinking. The two claim Shirk's integrity is in jeopardy.
Three young female staffers were fired in June, two of whom were hired by Shirk weeks earlier from the Whisky River Bar & Restaurant.
Sources told Action News the firings of the three young women came after a confrontation in the public defender's office between Shirk's wife, Michelle, and one of the three girls.
Shirk's wife, according to our sources, found a text message between Shirk and one of the women he worked with on his phone.
Action News does not have that text, but there are others between Shirk and Alton Kelly.
The story about questions surfacing about Shirk's broke on Aug. 25.
At 5:36 a.m., Shirk sent Kelly this text message:
"To think what I've done for you giving you a job paying 85K a year and it was about the most cushion job I could give to someone. and our frienship. And then when you left I paid out your leave time beause of the friendship because I didn't have to..and had not for many other employees.
And this is how you repay me?"
Shirk continues to write in the text:
"You are a no good backstabbing piece of garbage with ZERO integrity. ZERO. I always knew you were a lier (*misspelled in the text from Shirk) but I could deal with it. But you are something else."
This is just one of hundreds of texts and emails obtained by Action News.
Alton Kelly spoke with Lynnsey Gardner Wednesday afternoon. He worked for more than three decades for JSO, and currently works for another local law enforcement agency. He declined to go on camera because of an agreement with special prosecutor Bill Cervone, from Gainesville.
Watch our series of special reports on Action News.