Political infighting in Jefferson County worsens amid news that law violations may be involved.
The Pine Bluff Commercial reported first last night that the State Police are looking into matters concerning the Jefferson County clerk’s office. No specifics were revealed, but there’s broad belief that it’s related to voter registration procedures manipulated to help a specific candidate. Please note: If fraud has occurred, it’s not the sort that a Voter ID law would prevent.
Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter has also concluded that Theodis Davis, a Democrat who chairs the County Election Commission, had illegally held a private session of the commission. The complaint was made by Republican member Stu Soffer. Even in the face of the ruling, Davis claims the commission could legally meet in private to discuss “personnel matters.” He’s wrong. It may meet in secret — and only after announcing the purpose — only on promotion, demotion, firing, hiring or discipline of a specific employee. Davis was unhappy to learn that Soffer had tape-recorded the closed session to prove his case. No law prevents it.
Soffer is holding feet to the fire. The controversy — and there’s intra-Democratic disputes in Pine Bluff, too — has included various dueling ethics complaints.
Davis isn’t helping Democrats in Jefferson County with his shenanigans. Nor is County Clerk Pat Johnson, chief of voter registration, helping. She’s unavailable to talk about persistent questions concerning the operations of her office. Jefferson County is an important Democratic voter base. The mess taints any outcome there. It also can chill enthusiasm of honest Democrats.