Election Commission To Bill City For Its Attorney Fees In Recall Case

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Election Commission voted Wednesday to send the city of Chattanooga a bill for its expenses in the Mayor Ron Littlefield recall case.

Chairman Mike Walden said, "They've known about the problem (with the city charter's recall provision) for six years and they've done nothing about it. They've known all about this lawsuit and they've done nothing about it."

He added, "I think the city should pay this bill rather than all the citizens of Hamilton County."

Election Commission Attorney Chris Clem said his bill for the recall case has topped $20,000 and it is ongoing.

He said, "Still, it's just a fourth of the mayor's lawyer bills."

He suggested that the election office send the recall bill to the city in August along with the charge for conducting a city election at that time.

A hearing is set Friday at 9 a.m. before Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth on the suit filed by the mayor to try to void the recall and cancel a planned mayoral election in August.

Several recall leaders attending the Election Commission meeting said they had not hired an attorney for the second Littlefield lawsuit because they believe Judge Hollingsworth will again rule against them.

Charles Wysong and Mark West, Tea Party leader, said 42 percent of Judge Hollingsworth's campaign funds came from the law firm of the mayor's attorney. They said he should recuse himself, especially under terms of stricter judicial standards due to go into effect July 1.

Jerry Summers, an attorney and member of the election panel, defended Judge Hollingsworth, saying he "ranks high among the lawyers. I have found him to be a fair and an honorable man. To give the impression that 'the fix is in' I don't go for that. I think that's very unfair."

Attorney Clem said he believes the main issue to be decided by Judge Hollingsworth is whether the recall provision of the city charter has been properly enacted. He said Chancellor Howell Peoples earlier ruled that it had.

Attorney Summers said a key issue is whether the stricter recall standards in state law prevail or whether the city charter provisions should be followed as was ruled by a majority of the Election Commission in confirming the recall. 

James Anderson, another Election Commission member, said the Election Commission should not be challenging a state statute.   

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