Election complaint filed against county clerk over political practices pledge

The former election coordinator for Jefferson County has filed a formal complaint with the county election commission alleging that County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson violated state law when filing as a candidate for the May 20 Democratic Party primary.

Taylor Eubank said in the complaint that Johnson gave a copy of a political practices pledge to Will Fox, who is now election coordinator on the afternoon of March 3 and back-dated it to Feb. 25.

“The information presented in this back-dated document materially altered the form and substance of the information provided in the political practices pledge filed by Ms. Johnson of Feb. 25, 2014,” Eubank said in the complaint. “In particular, in the back-dated document, Ms. Johnson inserted the words COUNTY CLERK before her name.”

According to the complaint, “the substance, style and form of a candidate’s name as it appears on the official ballot must be exactly as it appears on the political practices pledge.”

Eubank also said that if the allegations are true, they “appear to constitute a felony offense.”

Jefferson County Election Commission member Stu Soffer brought up the same subject last week during a meeting of the commission, saying that he had received information that a complaint would be filed on the matter. Soffer asked commission chairman Ted Davis to investigate the matter.

Davis rejected the request, saying that his information was that an employee in Johnson’s office typed the original form and mistakenly left off the title, even though Johnson intended for it to be there.

He said Johnson then submitted an amended form and “there was no malicious intent as I understand it.”

Davis also rejected Soffer’s request to send the two forms to the prosecutor.

Copies of the complaint were sent to Soffer, Davis and Cynthia Sims, the third member of the commission, who did not cast a vote that could be heard on the matter last Friday.