by: Daveda Gruber:
Do you remember former Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes? Well, she’s back in the news! It appears that she has a Florida federal judge ruling in her favor over her suspension by former Governor and current Senator Rick Scott.
Scott, according to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, violated her constitutional rights when he suspended and “vilified” her without first allowing her to make her own case. Walker said newly inaugurated Governor Ron DeSantis must grant Snipes a “meaningful opportunity to be heard” regarding her suspension by March 31.
Snipes was in the news over the recount that followed the 2018 elections in the state of Florida.
Snipes had said that she would resign on January 4th but was suspended by Scott immediately. Snipes then tried to rescind her resignation and challenged the governor’s suspension as “malicious” and politically motivated.
Judge Walker ruled that Scott’s decision was an “effective termination” and violated Snipes’ due-process rights. Wallker also said Scott’s order suspending Snipes contained “falsehoods.”
Even after his ruling, Walker said he did not have the authority to reinstate Snipes. Walker wrote that the court was “not determining what the ultimate outcome will or should be.”
In a lawsuit, Snipes sued Scott and the GOP-controlled Florida Senate. The Senate was named in the lawsuit because that chamber’s Republican leader said there was no time to investigate the allegations against Snipes before her resignation took effect.
Florida law requires the Senate to either remove or reinstate county officials suspended by the governor.
Florida’s governor, at the time, Jeb Bush appointed Snipes. She had been the top elections official in Broward County since 2003. She was elected three times and her current term was not scheduled to end until 2020.
Scott’s attorneys had argued the governor had the authority to remove her from office.
Snipes was suspended by Scott for misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty. He then appointed his former general counsel to take her place. Scott determined that there were problems during the recount, which included reports of more than 2,000 ballots being misplaced.
Burnadette Norris-Weeks, who is Snipes’ attorney, challenged that some of the problems quoted by Scott were not caused by her client.
Scott’s general counsel Daniel Nordby said the governor took action when he did because he “determined the people of Broward County deserved a supervisor of elections” who could prepare for upcoming spring municipal elections in a “competent manner.”
Florida, if you can recall, Bush suspended Snipes’ predecessor Miriam Oliphant in November 2003 for what he called “grave neglect, mismanagement and incompetence.”
Bush Tweeted in November 2018:
There is no question that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts, undermining Floridians’ confidence in our electoral process. Supervisor Snipes should be removed from her office following the recounts.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 12, 2018
Senator Marco Rubio R-Fla. is among those who argued for Snipes’s dismissal.
He said, “She has shown she’s incapable of conducting a large and important election in a way that inspires public confidence and trust. She’s been found to have destroyed ballots, in violation of the law. Opened absentee ballots early, in violation of the law. Misprinted ballots that have gone out.”
We will have to see what comes out of the lawsuit that Snipes has filed but I for one, think she was highly incompetent just the way this past midterm election was conducted by her.