In his final weeks in office, Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott is doing everything he can to make sure Broward County’s besieged Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes doesn’t get her pension. But Snipes is fighting back.
The 75-year-old public servant sued Scott and Florida Senate President Bill Galvano on Tuesday in federal court to get her job back, Politico reported.
Scott, who was elected a U.S. senator in November, suspended Snipes on Nov. 30. The suspension came nearly two weeks after Snipes announced her resignation, which was to take effect on Jan.4. In his order, the governor accused Snipes of misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty. Her county was ground zero for a host of problems in the 2018 midterm elections and in previous years.
The governor’s move meant that Snipes would not receive her pension of $71,000 a year after 15 years of service. Snipes and her supporters viewed Scott’s suspension as malicious and politically motivated. Earlier this month, she rescinded her resignation in response to the suspension and has now filed a lawsuit.
Snipes’ lawsuit accused Scott of violating her due process rights by suspending her from office without a fair hearing.
Under Florida’s constitution, the governor can suspend elected officials like Snipes for a long list of reasons, from criminal activity to being drunk on the job. However, the state Senate gets to make the final decision whether to reinstate or remove the official from office, according to Politico.
Galvano, a Republican, argued that Snipes forfeited her right to a Florida Senate trial because she resigned and is expected to leave her post on Jan. 4.
Snipes was attacked by Republicans, and even President Donald Trump, for her handling of the midterm election. She was harshly criticized for her management of the tight Senate race between Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Scott. Broward failed to report vote totals to the state every 45 minutes on election night, and the county’s recount process took much longer than most other counties. Snipes also acknowledged that her office had misplaced more than 2,000 ballots included in the original count.
However, Snipes argues that Scott was partly to blame for much of the Election Day and recount nightmares because the governor issued time-consuming records requests and lawsuits after the county experienced heavy voter turnout and a significant number of ballots by mail.
There’s also an obvious racial element underpinning the governor’s decision not to let Snipes leave office quietly.
“If I start pointing out people who did the same types of things and they didn’t get removed, well, why didn’t they get removed? Let me tell you something: In this Trump era, I’m going to say that I’m black all the time. I’m not going to hide it,” State Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens) said, pointing to an alleged racial double standard that Scott and Galvano denied.