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An ex-sheriff may have broken ethics laws while working for a smartgun company

Yardarm Technologies, a smartgun company, launched in 2013 to some fanfare. The company produces a sensor that can record every instance a gun is fired, in what could be a boon to law enforcement. Eventually, Yardarm established a pilot program with the Santa Cruz sheriff's office, but there may be a snag: according to an investigation by Reveal, a former sheriff who championed the program may have been in violation of ethics laws.

According to Reveal, Phil Wowak became a paid adviser for the company soon after leaving his post as sheriff. To prevent government officials from passing through the revolving door, California outlaws officials from working to influence former employers until they've been out of office for one year.

Reveal, however, found that Wowak might not have met that bar. While working on behalf of Yardarm, he reportedly helped broker the program with his successor in the sheriff's office, although both Wowak and the company say there was nothing improper about the job. Still, Wowak asked the state's political practices commission for guidance on the issue, and the current sheriff has reportedly paused a planned expansion of the pilot program.

Correction, October 2nd, 1:15PM ET: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the former sheriff involved. It is Wowak, not Wowack.