Snipes says she’ll fight sus­pen­sion by Scott

Su­per­vi­sor of elec­tions re­scinded her res­ig­na­tion

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Brit­tany Wall­man

Broward Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions Dr. Brenda Snipes an­nounced Satur­day she will fight her sus­pen­sion by the gov­er­nor, and re­scinded her let­ter of res­ig­na­tion that pre­ceded it.

Gov. Rick Scott sus­pended Snipes late Fri­day af­ter­noon, cit­ing “wide­spread is­sues with vot­ing” in Broward County.

Broward elec­tions of­fice at­tor­ney Bur­nadette Nor­ris Weeks said the gov­er­nor is hold­ing Snipes to a dif­fer­ent stan­dard than other elec­tions su­per­vi­sors in Florida, “as if there can never be a mis­take made.” She al­leged the sus­pen­sion was mean-spir­ited, an at­tempt to take Snipes’ pension, and based on false or un­fair al­le­ga­tions. She also sug­gested the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor was mo­ti­vated by pol­i­tics, re­mov­ing the Demo­cratic su­per­vi­sor in a heav­ily Demo­cratic county.

“We be­lieve it’s a ma­li­cious ac­tion that should not have hap­pened,” she said, adding later that “all of the vot­ers of Broward County should be concerned.”

The gov­er­nor Fri­day re­placed Snipes with Repub­li­can Peter An­tonacci, pres­i­dent and CEO of the state’s busi­ness-re­cruit­ment agency En­ter­prise Florida.

An­tonacci has his­tory with Broward elec­tions: He pros­e­cuted the 2004 Se­nate hear­ings against Broward’s prior elec­tions su­per­vi­sor, Miriam Oliphant. Oliphant was re­moved by Repub­li­can Gov. Jeb Bush, also for al­leged in­com­pe­tence. An­tonacci rep­re­sented the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

“We’ve got to do bet­ter than this,” for­mer Broward Com­mis­sioner Sylvia Poitier said af­ter the news con­fer­ence. “The world has got to know what hap­pened. It’s not fair.”

Af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tion, which brought un­flat­ter­ing na­tional at­ten­tion to her op­er­a­tion, Snipes sub­mit­ted a let­ter of res­ig­na­tion that was to take ef­fect Jan. 4, a date that likely would have kept the cur­rent gov­er­nor from se­lect­ing her re­place­ment. Scott was elected to the U.S. Se­nate and will be sworn in on Jan.

3.

Scott, in his an­nounce­ment of the sus­pen­sion Fri­day, said “tax­pay­ers should no longer be bur­dened by pay­ing a salary for a su­per­vi­sor of elec­tions who has al­ready an­nounced res­ig­na­tion.” He said An­tonacci would “be solely fo­cused on run­ning free and fair elec­tions, will not be run­ning for elec­tion and will bring or­der and in­tegrity back to this of­fice.”

He sus­pended Snipes for mis­fea­sance, in­com­pe­tence and ne­glect of duty.

In a room filled with black pas­tors, elected of­fi­cials, com­mu­nity lead­ers and her fel­low “Deltas” soror­ity sis­ters in their trade­mark red cloth­ing, Snipes thanked her sup­port­ers Satur­day and asked ev­ery­one to keep an open mind.

“We’ve made lots of achieve­ments, ac­com­plish­ments and have al­ways done our work in an air of qual­ity and in­tegrity,” Snipes said.

Snipes was set to re­ceive

$71,000 a year pension from her time in the elec­tions of­fice. The job it­self paid

$178,865 an­nu­ally. But the sus­pen­sion could cost Snipes that pension, Nor­ris

Weeks said. She said Snipes was un­able to get an­swers to her ques­tions about the pension but in­tends to fight for it.

By re­scind­ing her res­ig­na­tion, she’s stat­ing she in­tends to re­main in of­fice un­til her term ends in Novem­ber 2020.

Broward Com­mis­sioner Dale Hol­ness said em­ploy­ees of the elec­tions of­fice are wor­ried about their jobs and are not sure what might hap­pen next.

“The em­ploy­ees are anx­ious,” he said. “They have fam­i­lies to take care of.”

Snipes had the eyes of the na­tion on her elec­tions op­er­a­tion in Novem­ber, as ma­jor races, in­clud­ing Scott’s Se­nate race, po­ten­tially hung on Broward’s re­sults. There was no tidy end to vote count­ing on elec­tion night. In­stead, be­cause of mail-in bal­lots and hic­cups in the of­fice, the count and re­counts dragged on.

Nor­ris Weeks said the heavy vot­ing by mail bogged down tab­u­la­tion, and said Scott hit the of­fice with “ridicu­lous” and “friv­o­lous,” time-con­sum­ing records re­quests and law­suits.

“We will be fight­ing this to the very end,” she said.

SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SEN­TINEL

Dr. Brenda Snipes an­nounces she will fight the gov­er­nor’s sus­pen­sion with for­mer state Rep. Gwyn­dolen Clarke-Reed, right, Broward Com­mis­sioner Dale Hol­ness, be­hind, and Pas­tor Luke Har­ri­gan, left.

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