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The flip side of the 9/13 Kurita/Barnes Executive Committee hearing

 

Atty. Tim Barnes

David J. Luciano, author of this article,  is an APSU political science student who testified at the Kurita/Barnes September 13 Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee Hearing and was present for the entire process. Luciano is the former president of the APSU Democrats. This is his version of the hearing events as they occurred and is a response to the article published today (9.17.08) on Clarkville Online by author Debbie Boen.

As someone who witnessed the entirety of the Democratic Party’s Executive Committee’s hearing of Tim Barnes’s challenge of the 22nd district senatorial election, I must respond to Debbie Boen’s misrepresentations of the facts of this event.

Although she states that Joe Schiller “told the officials in the room that ‘they had been instructed to vote based on the evidence and facts, not on retribution and revenge,’” and was then asked to leave the room, this was not in fact what happened.  The rules of the meeting stipulated that while spectators and the media were welcome to attend the event, only committee members were allowed to speak.  Schiller did not make this statement; a committee member made a similar statement and Schiller then yelled loudly, “here, here!”.   When executive committee members reminded him that he was not allowed to speak as a non-committee member, he continued to get increasingly louder, yelling, “But I’m a voter!”  Again, he was asked to stop, and refusing, was escorted from the room.

TheTennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee in session before a full house

This incident came after members of the Kurita camp had been admonished by committee chair Gray Sasser for laughing, hooting, and making derisive comments during the hearing.

Also, Boen quotes Beth Robinson as saying, “There was no proof,” and calling the hearing, oddly, a “Scopes monkey trial.”  Tim Barnes’s case was presented by noted attorney George Barrett, whose reputation throughout Tennessee is legendary. Barrett was assisted by four experienced and respected attorneys who also are highly regarded. Does anyone seriously think that the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee listened for eight hours to a case with “no proof?”. Rosalind Kurita’s attorney had ample opportunity to put on a defense, and yet offered not a single witness or affidavit to dispute the evidence offered by Barnes’s attorneys.  Does anyone seriously think the party would have made its decision without careful thought and deliberation?  Without ample evidence and legal underpinnings on which to do so?

Although Rosalind Kurita has been saying to the media since Saturday that she was “cheated” out of an election that was “certified,” the facts are this:

  • That the election was certified means that the numbers on election day show that Kurita had 19 more votes than Barnes.  No one disputes this and this was not part of the election contest.
  • George Barrett and the other attorneys for Tim Barnes put on evidence, including sworn affidavits and three witnesses, attesting to the fact that a precinct captain had instructed voters who stated that they wanted to vote for Tim Barnes to vote in the Republican primary.  This precinct captain was shown to have ties to Rosalind Kurita.
  • It was proven that a significant higher number of voters who historically vote in Republican primaries switched over to vote in the Democratic primary in this election.  The suggestion is that Rosalind Kurita used her ties to Ron Ramsey, who had pledged openly to “help her in any way [he] could” to turn out Republican voters to vote for her in an attempt to maintain Republican leadership of the Senate.
  • Rosalind Kurita violated the law by going into a polling place, along with her deputy campaign manager.  Although she stated she went into the building to “use the restroom,” Tim Barnes’s attorney produced four affidavits and a witness stating that she clearly violated the hundred-foot boundary.  It is unclear for what purpose Kurita entered the building, as this polling place is surrounded by public restrooms. One of the affiants was from a school-board candidate who was at the polling place from before the polls opened at 7:00 a.m. until after they closed at 7:00 p.m., and who got in her car and left the premises to go across the street to use the restroom several times throughout the day so that she would not violate the law.  Kurita’s attorney did not produce a single witness or affidavit defending her actions or corroborating her story.

Rather than feeling that the events of Saturday were a “Scopes monkey trial,” (whatever that may mean),  many people feel that on Saturday, the Tennessee Democratic Party followed Tim Barnes’s lead and acted with bravery and courage, knowing they would be criticized.  They did the right thing in that they followed the rules that were set before them to set right a wrong and send the party and the state of Tennessee back in the right direction.

In Clarksville at 7:30 p.m. (9.17.08) the Executive Committees of the affected counties are meeting to determine which name will be on the the Democratic ballot in November.


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4 Responses to “The flip side of the 9/13 Kurita/Barnes Executive Committee hearing”

  1. votechange Says:
    September 18th, 2008 at 2:43 am

    Thank you for the great article. It gave me a clearer picture of the evening, as well as some ACTUAL FACTS about the case.

    Now, what I don’t understand is, how does someone who has been a senator for twelve long years intentionally VIOLATE THE LAW this way??
    Could Senator Kurita be that ignorant of the law while at the same time making the laws for the rest of us?
    Or maybe she’s used to not having to abide by the rules and feel they don’t apply to her?!
    She had to use the bathroom? Are you kidding me??
    Does she REALLY think we’re ALL that stupid?

    Even my children, who go with me to vote, know about the boundary line that the candidates are not allowed to cross!! This is so ridiculous it’s sad!

    There are signed affidavits stating that Ms. Kurita crossed the boundary line at the polling place (which is against the law), entered the polling place (another violation), and WORST OF ALL? She and her deputy campaign manager then proceeded to enter through a door which was clearly marked NO CANDIDATES ALLOWED!

    To make matters worse, she lied about it.

    These are not merely “allegations by Tim Barnes”
    as the media would have us believe, but, like it or not, these are the FACTS! (Or evidence you might say.)

    Maybe they should dig a little deeper and find out if anything ELSE illegal went on in that room!

    Does Ms. Kurita REALLY want to bring up the issue of “stealing an election”?
    Wasn’t it Kurita who wanted her “flunkies” and “friends in high places” to use lies and trickery to deceive voters because she had to “win at all costs”?
    We’re talking about hundreds (if not more) of votes that would have easily given Mr. Barnes the win had they been properly awarded to him!

    So, really, TIM BARNES WON this election to begin with!!

    There are more questions than answers in this case. Maybe it should be investigated further.

    Or, maybe….”we should just move on now and stop talking about the past” as Ms. Kurita said not too long ago!

  2. Turner McCullough Jr. Says:
    September 19th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    I empathize with those voters who feel their vote has been stolen. They have a point. However, let’s look at who stole their vote. Who denied all voters fair access to participate in this election as they truly desired? It wasn’t Tim Barnes. Neither was it the Democratic Party Executive Committee.

    Those who made the deceptive phone calls and wrongly instructed voters at their voting precincts invalidated all District 22 voters of our right to a fair, impartial election. We were robbed, true enough. However it wasn’t Tim Barnes who committed the robbery. Nor was it the TN Democratic Party Executive Cmte.

    Our political system is sworn to protect the sanctity of the ballot. Sadly, there are those in our midst who feel that this is just some ‘feel good’ phrase. They think nothing of manipulating the process to their own ends. When such violations occur, corrections must be made. Sometimes those corrections are painful to the greater population, but they must be made to protect the sanctity and fairness of the ballot process for everyone. Regrettablyly, such is the case here.

    The proscribed remedies for election manipulation have been applied. The ship has been righted, the course corrected. The denial of due process has been subverted. The voters’ right of choice has been restored. The electorate will be more apt to question dubious and doubtful assertions now having been exposed to this manner of trickery.

    Perhaps that is the one small blessing to emerge from this lamentable affair. An informed electorate is the scoundrel’s bane and greatest opponent.

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