Alachua Amended Lawsuit Filed
At around 1 pm EST today an amended complaint was filed at the Alachua County Courthouse in the lawsuit contesting the April 11th election in the City of Alachua.
A copy of the amended lawsuit is available at the Alachua Project website.
The lawsuit, brought by Charlie Grapski, State House Candidate (running in the Democratic primary), and other concerned citizens alleges serious and significant wrongdoing by the City’s officials in conducting the election.
The City, which conducted its own elections, failed to follow Florida laws in the conduct of the election. Named in the lawsuit as defendants are City officials including the City’s Mayor, Jean Calderwood, who despite being actively involved in supporting candidate James Lewis (elected to his 40th consecutive year on the City Commission), retained her position as one of the three member Canvassing Board. Calderwood’s husband, Hugh, was furthermore the official Treasurer of the Lewis campaign and served effectively in the management of that campaign. Clovis Watson, who had Grapski arrested while inspecting the absentee ballots, also served on that board with Calderwood. Watson, along with Deputy Clerk Alan Henderson (who performed the functions of Supervisor of Elections), are futhermore alleged to have unduly influenced voters to cast ballots for James Lewis at City Hall while performing their duties as election and public officials.
The secrecy of the ballot, it is alleged, was denied to the voters. Numerous improprieties in the conduct of the election are spelled out. The implications of this for those City officials is immense - as many of these actions are declared to be felony offenses according to Chapter 104 of Florida Statutes.
Grapski, joined by Michael Canney and other concerned Alachua residents, held a press conference outside of City Hall today at 2 pm. Grapski stated:
There have been attempts to distract from the central issue here - and that is the serious improprieties by Alachua City officials in the conduct of the election. Improprieties that: Denied the secrecy of the ballot; violated the civil rights of citizens; denied the right to vote; and undermined the confidence of citizens in the legitimacy of their government.
Canney, on behalf of the Green Party, called upon the State Attorney’s office “to drop all charges against Mr. Grapski and Mr. Canney, and to open an investigation into the allegations of misconduct by Alachua city officials, not only in the April 11 election, but also in the subsequent abuse of police powers as a means of intimidation and harassment against law abiding citizens attempting to exercise their inalienable rights under the Constitution.”
This sentiment was echoed by Grapski who declared: “This is not an issue attacking one political party. This is not a racial issue. This is not an issue about recording public officials. It is an issue of the fairness of the election process and teh sanctity of the right to vote.”
“All Americans, All Floridians, and All in Alachua County,” Grapski stated, “should be extremely concerned by the allegations contained in this lawsuit.”
They should demand that those in law enforcement, “starting with teh State Attorney’s office and going up from there,” should “take this matter seriously, investigate these allegations, and prosecute all public officials involved in these activities to the fullest extent of the law.”
The press conference was held at 2 pm at City Hall because the Alachua County Republican Party, in conjunction with an unidentified member of the Democratic Black Caucus, announced they would have a rally to support the officials and polices of the City of Alachua.
In an email by former Republican Executive Committee (REC) chairperson, Mildred Russell, to “Fellow Conservative Volunteers,” it was stated: “We have an opportunity to show our support as well and stand with the citizens of this forward moving community, and against the tactics of the left who want to send it backwards.”
News of this “event” was obtained, along with this email, by the Alachua Project. They publicly posted the email on their website http://freealachua.org . This set off a flurry of accusations and activities at the Republican party. Included in the REC’s email, which current Chairman Stafford Jones said he instructed to be sent out, is a statement that the “NAACP … are going to speak up in support of the city of Alachua.” This was news to the NAACP which had its monthly meeting yesterday evening. The NAACP passed a motion that they would have no involvement in this affair until more information was forthcoming. The chairman of the NAACP stated that he was asked to speak, by an unnamed member of the Democratic Black Caucus, on behalf of Bonnie Burgess (Alachua City Commissioner who is running in the same race as Grapski) and Clovis Watson. The details of the allegations against Watson and the other City officials (Burgess is not claimed to have had any role in the election improprieties) had not been presented to them at that time. The NAACP has taken actions to clarify the record that they had no involvement with any of the actions proposed to support the City of Alachua.
After the scheduled “event” was revealed, along with the Republican party email, the press conference originally set for 1 pm was moved to 2 pm. The “event,” however, never materialized. You can view the Republican party memorandum at the Alachua Project site as well.