State employee fired after Ted Nugent letter of recommendation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A state employee with a spotless record lost his job after writing a letter of recommendation for the Motor City Madman.

"Ted Nugent is definitely a polarizing figure," said defense attorney and legal analyst Jeff Hammerschmidt. "It seems most people are on one side or the other with him and the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife seems to be very much against him."

A captain with the department lost his job last year and lost an appeal a few months ago. Now, he's fighting to get it back.

Ted Nugent's music made him famous, but his politics have sometimes made him a target.

Nugent turned his passion for hunting and gun rights into a cable TV show. In 2010, the show got him in trouble when it showed him illegally hunting deer in California.

Nugent pleaded no contest to a couple minor crimes, lost his hunting privileges, and bashed the Department of Fish and Wildlife when he explained his plea.

"I did so because of a manipulation and an unjust, I'll call it entrapment, by some corrupt authorities," he said in an interview with Archery Talk.

Two years later, he ran into similar trouble in Alaska for illegally hunting a bear. Court documents show that as he faced federal charges, he got a letter of recommendation from a California Fish and Wildlife captain. The letter was on CDFW letterhead and the signature block read "Robert D. Simpson, patrol captain." A year later, the department fired Capt. Simpson.

Hammerschmidt says Nugent's history makes a stronger case for Simpson's termination.

"I think the fact that the letter was written for someone who is a hunter and has had problems definitely works in the department's favor as far as a basis for terminations," he said.

A "notice of adverse action" shows Simpson knew he wasn't allowed to write the letter and also used department letterhead in a letter to U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, asking for help with a court martial his son was facing. That was a month before the Nugent letter. But Simpson worked for the state for almost 20 years and had never before been disciplined.

Hammerschmidt says most employers won't fire someone for their first problem unless it's an extreme violation, like workplace violence.

"It would be interesting to know if other employees who committed similar conduct were terminated when it involved someone other than someone famous," he said.

Neither Simpson nor spokespeople from Fish and Wildlife wanted to comment on the pending litigation. Nugent's office never returned requests for comment from Action News.

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