Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is in violation of state transparency laws.
Snipes defied a court order allowing the inspection of vote records Friday evening. Gaetz will ask a judge to hold the official in contempt of court.
Earlier Friday, a judge ordered Snipes to allow immediate inspection of voter records during an emergency hearing Friday. The court was asked to intervene in the tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) as the two sides prepare for a possible recount.
Judge Carol-Lisa Phillip said Snipes must allow inspections on or before 7:00 p.m. Friday evening. Phillips found that Snipes violated the law by failing to turn over the information to attorneys for Scott’s Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Lawyers for Snipes argued that requiring such a swift response would interfere with ongoing efforts to finish counting Broward County ballots. But lawyers for Scott contended the information is already required to be collected under state law and should take minutes to provide. Scott filed a lawsuit Thursday night against, asking the court to order Snipes to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots.
However, Snipes’ attorney said in court Friday that it would be inappropriate for the court to intervene at this time, simply because Scott wants the counting process to be sped up. The attorney said Snipes is not refusing to turn over the records, but needs more time to do so.
Scott’s thin lead over Nelson has narrowed during the vote-counting in the days since he declared victory Tuesday night.
A partial transcript is as follows:
DOBBS: Congressman, I’ve got to say, looking at [Brenda Snipes’] record, what in the world is she doing in the job?
GAETZ: Lou, it’s like we’ve got a banana republic down here in Broward County. Just hours ago a judge ruled that Brenda Snipes violated the Florida constitution by not allowing citizens to have access to basic records that were supposed to be produced. Easy stuff Lou, like how many ballots were cast? And who cast them? And where were they cast? This is something that almost every supervisor of elections, 65 out of 67, were able to get all of this information right in a matter of hours. We’re now days later. Brenda Snipes, after getting a court order that she had to allow us to inspect that information, well, the deadline for that court order was 7 o’clock.
The top of your show. And she has not complied with it. When I’m done here, we’re going to go get motions for contempt prepared and we’re going to be back in front of a judge to hold Brenda Snipes in contempt of court for not following court orders and not following the Florida constitution. The question is, “what is Governor Rick Scott going to do about it?” I think he needs to immediately suspend her and put this office in the receivership of the secretary of state. The secretary of state is the chief elections officer in Florida. This lady cannot do the job. She is either incompetent or corrupt and I don’t want to wait around and find out which one it is.
DOBBS: It might be both.
GAETZ: It could be.
DOBBS: It is stunning to me that she’s still in office. How can that be after what she has not done and after what she has done, as you pointed out, she defied a court order, broke her constitutional duty, I mean what more does she have to do?
GAETZ: That is a really appropriate question for Governor Rick Scott. I hope that Governor Rick Scott is is like scared because he’s a candidate so he should fulfill the duties of the governor. 8 million ballots were cast in Florida, Lou. And my constituents, who did it right, my supervisors of elections followed the law, we should not have out votes deluded by the corruption and by the terrible, illegal behavior here in Broward County.
***Update*** Rep. Gaetz posted this video from the Broward County Election offices late Friday night:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.