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Senate President Bill Galvano says the Senate will not take up the suspension of Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes because her “unconditional” letter of resignation she submitted last month takes effect Jan. 4, before the chamber is scheduled to meet again.

Snipes submitted her resignation letter on Nov. 18 after being criticized for her handling of ballots and vote recounts in last month’s election.

Gov. Rick Scott, who was critical of Snipes handling of the election, issued an order on Nov. 30 suspending Snipes from office and appointed Pete Antonacci, who served as chair of Enterprise Florida at the time and a Scott supporter, to fill out Snipes’ term which expires in 2020.

Snipes responded to the suspension by announcing she was rescinding her resignation and would fight Scott’s suspension order.

Under state law, it’s the duty of the Senate to hold a hearing and make a determination on the suspension of an elected officials. The Senate on Thursday took the position that Snipes resignation was unconditional and can not be rescinded.

“By its terms your resignation was unconditional, it was acted upon by the Governor in the Executive Order, and a successor has already been appointed and sworn into office,” Secretary of the Senate Debbie Brown wrote in a memo to Snipes. “Your term of office will expire under any circumstance prior to the Senate being able to consider the matter. The Senate President has determined under Senate Rule 12.7, no further action is required.

Galvano says given the fact that Snipes made her resignation effective Jan. 4, before the Senate is scheduled to meet again, there is no need for the body to address the governor’s suspension order.

“Past Senate practice as recently as 2012 dictates if a term ends prior to the Senate being able to take action, then no further proceedings are held,” Galvano wrote in a memo to senators. “For this reason, I have directed Secretary Brown to inform Dr. Snipes no further action will be taken by the Senate. Secretary Brown’s letter is also attached for your reference.

“This decision in no way reflects on Dr. Snipes, the Governor, or their actions,” Galvano goes on to say in the memo. The decision merely reflects that no timely action can be taken by the Senate. Nothing precludes Dr. Snipes from seeking a judicial determination of any rights she may have related to the Office of Broward County Supervisor of Elections.

 

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