A Quick Update
At least one election administrator has had their job saved ,even if temporarily, by a federal judge. See story below. Who knows where this will end. But it was brought to my attention last week that the hypocrisy the democrat attack on the current system is even worse that we thought.
The lawyers representing the now dismissed election coordinators, including Loudon County's Dana Zehner, claim that the only reason they were dismissed were because they are democrats and now republicans control local election commissions. Well, guess who wrote the current law that gave the majority party control of local election commissions? You got it, the democrats.
During the Winfield Dunn administration, Tennessee governor 1971-1975, the election laws that we now have were passed by the then majority democrat state legislature. Prior to the new, current law, each county's election commissions were divided 3-2 along party lines based on how each county voted in the last governor's election.
For instance if Loudon County voted a majority for the republican candidate for governor, the local election commission would be 3-2 majority republican and vise versa if a county voted democrat. After Dunn was elected as the first republican governor in Tennessee in fifty years and only the second since the Civil War, the democrat state legislature decided to change the law for the appointment of the state and local election commissions to what we have now never believing that republicans would ever take control of the state legislature.
Anyway, this is politics at it's finest or worst depending on your perspective. One note worth pointing out. At the end of the story below, the gold digger lawyers handling the lawsuits want the question answered as to whether election administrators are county or state employees. This would determine who pays the legal fees. Of course the lawyers want the state to have to pay. Deeper pockets.
I'm not a lawyer but that question seems pretty simple.
Election official has job at least until hearing
Dems' attorney wants ruling by Supreme Court
NASHVILLE - A federal judge on Friday prohibited the firing of Rutherford County Election Administrator Hooper Penuel pending a full hearing July 24.
An attorney for Penuel and seven other Democratic county election administrators who already have been fired, meanwhile, says he will file a motion to involve the Tennessee Supreme Court in a pending lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Tom Wiseman issued the temporary restraining order against Penuel's dismissal and scheduled the follow-up hearing for Friday on whether to make the injunction permanent.
Gary Blackburn, attorney for the eight plaintiffs in the case, says the issue at the upcoming hearing will be whether Penuel's job involves making policy or is merely ministerial.
Under legal theory involved, hiring and firing for a policy-making governmental position can be based on political considerations. On the other hand, if the position is ministerial in nature, then the officeholder cannot legally be fired for political reasons.
Besides Penuel, the dismissed administrators bringing the lawsuit are from Loudon, Cannon, DeKalb, Henry, Putnam, Rhea and Weakley counties.
The lawsuit contends that the seven administrators were fired by Republican majorities on county election commissions because they are Democrats. Republicans gained control of all county election commissions in April, reflecting GOP control of the state Legislature.
While this week's hearing will be focused on Penuel, Blackburn said the ruling obviously will be relevant to the status of the seven administrators already dismissed.
Blackburn said he advised Wiseman that a motion also would be filed asking the federal judge to request a ruling from the state Supreme Court on two specific questions of state law.
n Whether a provision of Tennessee's constitution (Article I, Section 4) applies to the position of county election administrator. The provision declares: "No political or religious test, other than an oath to support the Constitution of this state and the United States, shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state."
n Whether county election administrators are employees of the state or employees of the county where they work. A recent state attorney general's opinion said they are county employees, but there is apparently some dispute on the matter. Answering the question would decide whether state government or county governments would be responsible for paying legal expenses in the lawsuit.