Democrat Jared Vaughn faces Republican House B. Craig Lipscomb in the November 6 general election. On Thursday, Vaughn filed a motion asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment ordering the Secretary of State that Lipscomb “shall not appear on a ballot and shall be deemed not qualified as a candidate.”
When Lipscomb qualified for House District 30 on November 30 he filed his qualifying papers and his Statement of Economic Interests for 2016. Vaughn claims that the law requires that Lipscomb file his 2017 Statement of Economic Interests form by April 30. He did not file his 2017 statement until August 1.
Secretary of State John Merrill (R) told APR that there is an April 30 deadline; but that the penalty for missing the deadline can be a fine of $5 a day for each day past the deadline that the Statement is late, and whether to levy that fine or not is up to the Alabama Ethics Commission.
Lipscomb’s Republican primary runoff opponent, Robert McKay, sued last week asking Circuit Court to remove Lipscomb. On Wednesday, Judge Williams Rhea ruled that his court did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the matter.
Vaughn, who is an attorney, told APR that the court rule correctly given the complaint filed by McKay and his attorney, Fred Teague. Vaughn said that unlike McKay’s challenge he is not challenging the results of the Republican primary; but only Lipscomb’s qualifications to be on the general election ballot.
APR asked Vaughn: B. Craig Lipscomb filed his Statement of Economic Interest on August 1. The voters will be able to go online and view his and your Statements of Economic Interests from August 1 to November 6, that is 98 days for general election voters to study both your statement and his so effectively Lipscomb has followed the spirit of the law.
Vaughn disagreed and said what about the voters from April 30 to August 1. The spirit of the law was used by Jefferson County Judge Pamela Cousins in her case. In that case she filed her statement with the Democratic Party thinking they would file it. “The party dropped the ball there” and the Montgomery County Judge ruled that she followed the spirit of the law; but that would not apply here.
APR asked Vaughn: the Alabama Republican Party has certified Lipscomb as their candidate and the Alabama Ethics Commission has certified that Lipscomb has met all the qualifications does the Secretary of State have the authority to remove Lipscomb from the ballot?”
Vaughn said that the Secretary has a specific obligation to remove Lipscomb from the ballot.
Etowah County Republican Party Chairman Phil Williams, himself an accomplished attorney, told APR that Vaughn’s, “Intent is to harass Lipscomb, and to hopefully get something on record that has grounds for appeal.”
Williams said that this was a, “Flailing candidacy at work here.”
Vaughn said that he, “Would like to bring integrity back to the state.”
Vaughn said that Judge Roy Moore has embarrassed the Gadsden area and made it the subject of late nigh comedian jokes.
“I am not for sale,” Vaughn said. I want to work for the people. In my opinion, this district has not been adequately represented since I have been living here.”
Vaughn is being represented by Chris Christie. He has also filed a complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission earlier this week.
House District 30 includes parts of St. Clair and Etowah Counties.