Brenda Snipes is suspended but she’s going down swinging – How will the story end for Broward’s highly flawed Supervisor of Elections?
Excerpt: A day after Florida’s governor suspended Brenda Snipes from her position as Broward County’s supervisor of elections, Snipes announced that she would be scrapping any plans to resign in January as she fights back against claims of incompetence and misconduct.
“We will be fighting this,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, Snipes’ contracted attorney, during a press conference Saturday. “In additional to that, Dr. Snipes hereby rescinds her resignation which would have been effective on the fourth of January. She rescinds that resignation as we go forward and fight these...allegations that are frivolous.”
Gov. Rick Scott, who won his race for U.S. Senate against Democrat Bill Nelson following a highly publicized election and recount, signed an executive order on Friday ordering Snipes’ removal from office, citing “misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty.”
The Florida Constitution mandates that the Florida Senate is required to hold a hearing to remove Snipes from office. The Senate has three months to begin its proceedings. The hearing was not likely to take place if Snipes’ resignation date was honored.
The executive order states that Snipes will not receive any pay or benefits while suspended, but it remains unclear if her suspension would affect the pension she is set to receive after her retirement as Broward’s supervisor of elections. Scott has appointed his former general counsel, Peter Antonacci, to lead the department.
Bottom Line: From the onset it was never a question as to if there was cause to remove Brenda Snipes from office, her previous infractions frankly would’ve warranted her having been suspended and removed, but rather whether we’d see accountability. I’d previously been given guidance that accountability would be sought in Brenda Snipes' situation and am glad to see the first step towards accountability taking place.
A week it ago it made news when Brenda tendered her resignation and would be positioned to ride off into the sunset with taxpayer pensions totaling about $130,000 annually. Had Brenda simply been allowed to pack up and head home that that type of sendoff – what message would be sent to public officials? What would the disincentive be to prevent someone from breaking the law and public trust in the future?
On multiple occasions I’ve outlined the (minimum) six specific statutes of Florida election law that she violated. I also highlighted three that rise to the level of voter/electoral fraud in Florida. It’s critical that we have accountability not just so that there’s justice served in Brenda’s case but most importantly so that we’re not having this same conversation in another fifteen years after yet another Broward Supervisor of Elections breaks the law throwing our elections into chaos.
In the meantime, I’m increasingly concerned that we haven’t seen any indication that there’s a move to hold Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, accountable for her six violations of law – two of which rise to the level of voter fraud... That’s something I’ll be exploring this week.