published Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Hamilton County Election Commission turns heated

by Cliff Hightower

The Hamilton County Election Commission approved the actions of its attorney this morning as he attempts to defend the panel against a mayoral lawsuit.

But the commission broke into a heated argument for almost 45 minutes before the measure was approved.

The election commission voted 3-1 in favor of Election Commission Attorney Chris Clem defending a lawsuit from Mayor Ron Littlefield, giving him permission to use any defense possible. Commissioner James Anderson voted no and Commissioner Jerry Summers abstained.

Questions were raised at the start of the meeting by Summers on whether Clem had the authority to name the state attorney general in the lawsuit and to question the constitutionality of a state law on recall elections.

Commission Chairman Mike Walden defended Clem, saying the commission knew about the possible defense for at least a year and a half.

The recall effort began almost a 11/2 years ago when three groups — Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Chattanooga Tea Party — banded together and started collecting signatures to oust the mayor.

The commission certified and set a recall election of Littlefield for August. Littlefield has sued the election commission in an attempt to have a judge stop the election.

For more information, read tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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