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Attorney sues to disqualify Bittel from Florida Democratic Party chairman ballot


A Bernie Sanders presidential delegate and long-time Democratic activist have sued the Florida Democratic Party, Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Juan Cuba, and prominent progressive donor Stephen Bittel, accusing the latter two of ballot-stuffing during a recent party election that could serve as the springboard to propel Bittel to the state party chairmanship.

The suit, filed in Miami-Dade court Friday by attorney Bruce Jacobs and Mae Christian, claims the local party violated multiple bylaws last month when electing Bittel as a precinct committee member and then as state committeeman. Jacobs and Christian -- who support former state Sen. Dwight Bullard for party chairman -- want to remove Bittel from the Jan 14 ballot.

Cuba says the lawsuit is politically motivated and "has no merit."

In their complaint, the duo say local party leaders erred in early December when they suspended party rules and swore in new precinct and committee members, including Bittel, and again on Dec. 20 when they allowed hundreds of new members to participate in the local party election between Bittel and Bullard for state committeeman after voting to accept their own membership applications.

"Imagine Mr. Jacobs and his law school classmates overwhelmingly voting to make themselves members of the Florida bar," the complaint states.

(Bullard, who was on a previously scheduled family vacation, did not attend the election. He has since moved his voter registration to Gadsden and secured a local post there, making him eligible to run for party chairman.)

Jacobs and Christian say Bittel should be disqualified as state committeeman, and have asked a judge to approve a temporary injunction blocking him from the election. Court dockets show the state party, which according to the complaint has scheduled a Jan. 13 hearing to hear Jacobs' allegations, has objected to the injunction.

Cuba said he's hoping the party can put the issue behind it. The candidates for state party chairman, including Bittel, Bullard, Leah Carius, Alan Clendenin and Lisa King will be in Pompano Wednesday evening to discuss their candidacy.

"We had an open and transparent election. Everyone had an opportunity to be heard. We had attorneys on hand to ensure that our bylaws and procedures were properly followed, and I'm looking forward to putting this matter behind us," said Cuba. " It's unfortunate that Mr. Jacobs is using our court system to further his personal political agenda. It's clear his lawsuit has no merit."