Thank you for the opportunity to respond to last Sunday’s editorial which I took umbrage with because of several inaccuracies. Unfortunately, space precludes addressing them all. I also want to mention, the corresponding article did not report the reason Commissioner Cynthia Sims took shelter in the bathroom was to avoid hearing Chairman Mike Adam and my response to her harangue. Nevertheless, the editorial’s point about my bad joke as she departed was valid and I apologize. More important, I apologize to my wife for having to endure these slings and arrows.
To allude current events are politically motivated is wrong. I never had differences with three preceding county judges who were also Democrats. Since taking office, Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV has locked us out of our building three times, once stopping election preparations for five weeks. He also interfered with conducting the school election by taking possession of all voting machines and ballots, and scheduling poll workers. More on this will be made public next year.
Worst of all was yet another of Wilkins’ sham lawsuits resulting in Judge Wyatt’s Order. The judge had no alternative based on inaccurate claims presented to him and imposed Will Fox on us. However, the Order did not mention Elliott as the editorial claimed.
According to the Commercial, a couple of weeks later, Fox resigned due to” business demands”. Not reported was his delaying ballot finalization and failing to order sufficient absentee ballots, no provisional or sample ballots, and unavailability. Yet Fox remains on the county payroll grossing $14,000 as of November 30, supposedly retained to train Elliott.
What has been going on is retaliation against Adam and I for a state board complaint filed against his son after Wilkins dubious 121-vote runoff victory against Dutch King. Wilkins made his displeasure evident to me in a February budget meeting. Wilkins is also using his office to reward a long time political crony, church member, and campaign worker who was among the least qualified applicants for election coordinator. There are indications Elliott was preselected and his resume fabricated after the fact misspelling his first name twice in the process when I submitted a FOIA for those applications. Up until these events, Elliott and I got along well.
Elliott was being paid $2,700 monthly with benefits but had no duties. We accepted him as coordinator to accomplish pressing chores of the nature previously performed by coordinators. These tasks did not require special training. In the month since, the only thing Elliott accomplished was a questionable inventory and checking the mail intermittently. Adam could not obtain progress reports and was unable to contact Elliott on most days. Wilkins ignored Adam’s complaints on the rare occasion he could reach the judge.
When I objected to the election coordinator leaving the election commission meeting, Wilkins contracted attorney (who has already been paid about $40,000) noted, “He does not work for you”. The Commercial reporter astutely reported, “What happened is everything the county judge sat there and told us would not happen”, Soffer said.
We just learned Wilkins also hired Elliott as a recycling employee on February 1 at $1,050 monthly. These two county jobs are in addition to his being Gould Police Chief. No wonder Adam could never find Elliott and none of his tasks were completed.
Adam and I do not want Fox back because when he was coordinator he concealed annual wages of $111,413, $105,263, $79,475 and $65,400 by wrongly coding those payments as election expenses, and hiring someone to perform his duties and passing the cost along to school districts and taxpayers as election expenses. Adam shared this information with Wilkins and his attorneys. In announcing Elliott’s hiring, the Commercial quoted Wilkins, “Even before he applied for the job, Elliott spent a significant amount of time with Fox, where he received training”. That and ongoing training by Fox is why Adam asked Elliott to compile school election invoices.
I knew doing the math would be a problem for Elliott because his 2014 campaign reports are full of errors. Well at least the three he filed because he didn’t file several others. Knowing no amount of training would result in an accurate product involving numbers from Elliott, I prepared four invoices to recover $26,422 for the general fund. Our legal advisor said it was the right thing to do in the best interest of county taxpayers. If Adam and I wanted to “throw Elliott under the preverbal bus” as the editorial suggested, he would be reading about his filing miscalculations and missing reports from the ethics commission.
An October 27 Commercial editorial chided me on the issue of Elliott already having a full time job. It went on to say, “Elliott’s full-time job won’t hinder his performance as election coordinator. There are plenty of other people who hold full-time jobs and still serve on commissions, boards and the like”. “We believe that Soffer is picking nits on the issue”.
What the writer did not get is election coordinator is a job with duties to perform, not an appointment. What say you now based on the foregoing?
The same editorial went on to say, “Don’t get us wrong, you won’t find a more knowledgeable person on election law than Soffer. He knows his job and has always performed it well”. Trust me gentle reader when I tell you as the longest serving election commissioner in the county, “Jefferson County is heading for a disaster in May unless County Judge Wilkins unburdens us from Elliott and approves the experienced help we need now”. I publically make that plea to him and ask the Commercial to join me.