Lawsuit Filed Over Election Administrator Changes

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Lynn Bush
Stanley Dobson

Secret agreements and violations of the Sunshine Law and Tennessee Constitution are all at the center of lawsuit filed by former Cannon County Election Administrator Lynn Bush against the Cannon County Election Commission. Bush had been Cannon County’s Administrator of Elections from 2004 until April of this year when the new members of the Election Commission voted 3 to 2 to terminate her. Bush filed the lawsuit in Cannon County Chancery Court last week through her attorneys Gary Blackburn and John Ray Clemons of Nashville.

In the Complain, it is alleged that the new members agreed with each other and high ranking State Republican Officials to run Bush out of office. Three new members were appointed and three incumbent members were thrown off of the Election Commission following the Republican Party taking control of both houses of the State Legislature earlier this year. Bush says that, as a prerequisite to appointment to the Election Commission, members had to pledge that they would fire her. She also alleges that the members met in secret before the meeting in order to find a replacement for her. Bush was eventually replaced by current Election Administrator Stanley Dobson.

Bush says that at all times she conducted herself in a non-partisan manner and performed her duties properly. According to State Law, when considering a prospective employee to the office of Administrator of Elections, the Commission is required to consider the knowledge and experience of the candidate. Bush says the Commission never did that and terminated her for no reason at all other than that she was appointed by the prior Democratic Majority. Bush also accused the Commission of acting unconstitutionally when it imposed a “political test” on potential the Administrator. Article 1, Section 4 of the Tennessee Constitution forbids a political or religious test as a prerequisite to appointment to any government position.

Bush is seeking to be reinstated to the position of Administrator of Elections, back pay from the date of her termination and damages in the amount of $500,000.00. No hearing date is set at this time. The Commission has 30 days to answer the complaint and a hearing should be set shortly after that.