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Ousted Palm Beach elections chief says she won't pursue Senate hearing

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@elizabethrkoh

Susan Bucher, the former Palm Beach County supervisor of elections who was suspended earlier this month, said Monday she would not contest the decision before the Florida Senate and submitted her resignation.

In a statement, reported by Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel columnist (and former bureau chief for this blog) Steve Bousquet, Bucher said she had reviewed her legal options and had decided against moving forward with a hearing, citing the political balance of the chamber. The Senate is tasked with reviewing executive suspensions.

"The process established in Florida law would require that I go before a handpicked State Senate Committee with the Governor's lawyers as the prosecutors," Bucher wrote. "Prior to my service as your supervisor, I was a very vocal member of the House Minority Party in Tallahassee. As such, I do not believe I can receive a fair hearing before a very partisan Senate." 

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Bucher in mid-January, citing missed deadlines and delays in counting ballots during the contentious November 2018 election and recounts. But Bucher, a Democrat, alleged "political agendas" were the real reason she was removed from her position.

"Florida elected officials should not be afraid to express their views and stand strong for their constituents without fear of being removed from office through fabricated allegations which would not stand up in a court of law," she wrote. "Where is the established threshold that allows a Governor to circumvent the will of the voters? There should be documented rules for these Senate hearings."

Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said it was aware of news reports of Bucher's resignation but "does not have a formal response [from Bucher] at this time."

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, pushed back against Bucher's assertion a Senate hearing would be unfair: "I respect Supervisor Bucher, who I served with in the Florida House, as I do all elected officials in our state," he wrote. "The Senate’s constitutional responsibility to judge the merits of an executive suspension is an important feature of the checks and balances that allow for the separation of powers under our Constitution. I have and will continue to make every effort to ensure fair, unbiased due process for all involved with this important constitutional responsibility of the Florida Senate.”

Bucher's resignation would have been submitted to the Secretary of State's office — DeSantis on Monday named Judge Laurel Lee to replace Michael Ertel in the post, after Ertel resigned in disgrace over blackface photos that surfaced two weeks into his job.

When he suspended Bucher, DeSantis had named Republican lawyer Wendy Link as her replacement but said Link would not seek to be re-elected in two years when the term is up.

Bucher, however, suggested she was eyeing the next election year in determining her future plans: "Our laws need to ensure that every elected official recieves fair and equitable treatment, no matter what the accusations or their political party," she wrote. "I will work on just such language and consider my options for 2020."

Image: AP

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