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Lipscomb calls Vaughn ballot lawsuit frivolous

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, B. Craig Lipscomb responded to Jared Vaughn’s lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment to have him removed from the November 6 general election ballot.

“The Alabama ethics commission attorney told Judge Rhea in open court that my paperwork was in order and correct and that I was in compliance,” Lipscomb said. “The judge dismissed the case. Jared Vaughn and his attorney know this because they were in the courtroom. This is another frivolous lawsuit. There is nothing more than I can say about it.”

Lipscomb is a Gadsden area architect and the Republican nominee for House District 30. Jared Vaughn is a Gadsden area attorney and the Democratic nominee for House District 30.

On Wednesday, Judge William Rhea, citing a lack of jurisdiction, dismissed a suit brought by Lipscomb’s Republican primary opponent, former Ashville Mayor Robert McKay, seeking to remove Lipscomb from the ballot.

Lipscomb filed a Statement of Economic Interests when he qualified for office on November 30, 2017. He was correctly certified as a candidate by the Alabama Ethics Commission in late January. At issue, is a state law requiring candidates and officeholders to submit their updated Statement of Economic Interests form by April 30. Lipscomb filed a 2016 Statement of Economic Interests in November; but did not file his 2017 Statement until August 1, 92 days after the deadline.

The Republican Party certified Lipscomb as the winner of the Republican primary. Cynthia Ralston, an attorney with the Alabama Ethics Commission, testified in court that Lipscomb was in compliance with the law and was certified in January to be a candidate on the ballot.

Vaughn’s filing asks the court to issue a declaratory judgement to the Secretary of State ordering that Lipscomb be removed from the general election ballot.

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Secretary of State John Merrill (R) told the Alabama Political Reporter that the penalty for filing the Statement of Economic Interests late was a five dollar a day fine, not removal from the ballot. The candidates that were removed from the ballot, were removed for not having a Statement on file, not for filing an updated Statement late.

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Vaughn told APR that the Secretary of State has a specific obligation under the law to remove Lipscomb from the law. Vaughn said that the law should apply to everyone equally and not give special considerations to candidates with an R behind their names.

Judge Rhea never actually ruled on the merits of McKay’s case; but rather ruled that circuit court did not have jurisdiction to rule on a challenge to the results of a Republican ballot. Vaughn told APR that he is not challenging the GOP Primary results, but only Lipscomb’s qualifications to be a candidate on the ballot thus Circuit Court would have jurisdiction in his suit.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan told the Alabama Political Reporter, “This matter was settled in a court of law in August 22. It seems the Democrat would rather tie up the courts in a useless effort to go around the voters.”

A hearing has been scheduled for September 10 in Judge Rhea’s courtroom at 10:00 am..

House District 30 contains parts of St. Clair and Etowah County.

The general election will be November 6.

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