CHIPLEY – A Washington County resident has made good on his promise to challenge the legality of the upcoming vote to decide on the sale of liquor in the county.
Chief Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson has agreed to hear injunction proceedings in a case filed by Chipley attorney Jeremy A. Mutz on behalf of Ted Spangenberg, Jr.
Several filings have been made in the case since Thursday, with the proceedings originally set to take place on Tuesday; however, the proceedings are now scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Mutz filed separately against Supervisor of Elections Carol Finch Rudd, each Washington County Commissioner, and County Attorney Matthew Fuqua to take issue with the timing of the certification of the liquor petitions.
Advance Washington County presented the certified petition to county commissioners during the Nov. 23 meeting – 159 days after the petition was filed with the Clerk of Court on June 17.
“Chapter 567 of the Florida Statutes clearly states that a liquor sales petition for referendum election ‘must be completed and presented to the board of county commissioners within 120 days – not 159 days – of the filing with the Clerk of Court,” said Spangenberg, who calls the act a “clear violation” of state law. The signatures on the petition were certified by the Supervisor of Elections Office during the 120-day time frame; however, Spangenberg says the petition was presented to the board after the time had expired.
The filings call for an immediate halt to the process for the referendum election.
“Unless the court immediately intervenes prior to January 21, 2022, Defendant Rudd has indicated her intent to continue with the election, thereby abandoning her constitutionally sworn duty to follow and uphold the laws and constitution of Florida, and thereby violate the constitutional rights of the citizens and voters of Washington County,” reads the complaint against Carol Finch Rudd. A similar statement was made in regard to each of the Washington County Commissioners and Attorney Fuqua.
“The presentation of the Advance Washington County petition to the board on Nov. 23, 2021 was 159 days following the filing of the original filing of the petition with the Clerk of Court on June 17, 2021,” continues the complaint. “The 159 days was in clear non-compliance with the 120-day timeline specified in F.S. 567.01(1).”
“The failure of the [Board of Commissioners] as a government entity to take the strict and specific action required of them by Florida law was an assault on the Constitutional protections provided to Florida citizens and an assault on traditional American values regarding the principle of the rule of law.”
The complaint went on to allege that the board and the attorney were “preying” on the public’s trust.
“One can only conclude that those schooled and skilled in the law were preying upon the innocence of the public they had sworn to serve so that they, instead, might serve a special interest Political Action Committee and push through the election without compliance with Chapter 567,” alleges the document.
Washington County News will be in attendance of Wednesday’s court proceedings and will provide live updates at washingtoncounty.news