Complaint Seeking Removal of Eggers, Aceto from Watauga Elections Board on SBOE Agenda Dec. 20

Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Update: “SBOE Chairman [Josh] Howard confirmed that the nature of the meeting about the complaint set for Dec. 20 will not be a full evidentiary hearing but a review and discussion of the complaint by the State Board during the meeting,” according to Don Wright, general counsel for the SBOE, on Wednesday morning. 

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 9, 2013. The State Board of Elections will consider a complaint calling for the removal of two Republican board members from the Watauga County Board of Elections that was filed by local Democrats Stella Anderson, Jesse Presnell and Ian O’Keefe.

Board Member Kathleen Cambell (left), Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges, Chair Luke Eggers and Secretary Bill Aceto sit before the State Board of Elections. Photo by Lonnie Webster

Board Member Kathleen Cambell (left), Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges, Chair Luke Eggers and Secretary Bill Aceto sit before the State Board of Elections. Photo by Lonnie Webster

The meeting is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20, at 9 a.m. in the SBOE Boardroom at 441 N. Harrington Street in Raleigh. See agenda below.

In early November, Don Wright, general counsel with the State Board of Elections, initially said that a hearing was to occur in a “matter of weeks, not months.” Several hours after making that comment, Wright backtracked and said a decision to hear the complaint hadn’t yet been made. 

Also on the agenda for Dec. 20 are election protest appeals in Scotland Neck, Hope Mills, Sharpsburg, Belfast-Patetown Sanitary District and Pembroke. Along with the complaint against Watauga County board members, a complaint against Wilson County board members will be considered as well. 

Filed on Oct. 8, the complaint from the Presnell, Anderson and O’Keefe, which was first obtained by High Country Press in a public records request on Oct. 9, charges Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto with “official misconduct, participation in intentional irregularities, unethical actions, and incapacity and incompetency to discharge the duties of their offices.”

The complaint includes a list of 15 charges and an attached list of exhibits that includes newspaper and recorded accounts of prior meetings and alleged actions of board members and others. Click here to see the entire complaint and list of exhibits.

Days after the complaint was filed, Aceto filed a response to the SBOE, addressing all of the charges in the complaint and requesting the state board “summarily dismiss” the complaint. 

Before filing his response, Aceto, in an email, told High Country Press that “the complaint is obviously very partisan and that a small group of local democrats are unhappy.”

Click here to read his entire response. 

Eggers never responded to the complaint.

According to the procedure of charges against local county election officials, if the charges show “prima facie” a violation of election law, a breach of official duty, a participation in intentional irregularities, incapacity or incompetency to discharge the duties of the office, the State Board of Elections will schedule a hearing. 

See Dec. 20 meeting notice below: 

SBOE

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