Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published February 5, 2019
Susan Bucher resigned Monday as Palm Beach County's
suspended supervisor of elections, claiming she was a victim of "political
agendas" and that as a former Democratic legislator she could never get a
fair hearing in a Republican-controlled state Senate.
Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Bucher from office on Jan.
18, accusing the veteran elections official of incompetence. DeSantis'
suspension order was based largely on a highly detailed three-page summary
compiled by former Secretary of State Michael Ertel, who cited "trust in our
elections" as a hallmark of the republic.
Ertel, who accused Bucher of "combative incompetence," himself abruptly left
office last Thursday after photos surfaced showing him dressed in blackface
and wearing a T-shirt that said "Katrina victim" at a 2005 Halloween party.
Ertel, a former supervisor of elections in Seminole County in suburban
Orlando, confirmed that the photos were of him and he immediately resigned.
Under Florida law, the governor can suspend an elected official for
"malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness,
incompetence or permanent inability to perform official duties."
A suspended official has a right to a trial before the Florida Senate, a
40-member body that has the sole authority to permanently remove an official
from public office.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Palm
Beach County Supervisor of Elections Bucher on Jan. 18, saying she
failed to meet deadlines during recounts after November's election.
Bucher issued a statement late Monday afternoon in which
she said she reviewed her legal options with attorney Leonard Feuer and that
her fate would have been determined by a "handpicked" Senate committee with
attorneys for DeSantis acting as prosecutors.
"This is my only option for due process," Bucher said. "The law does not
provide for guidelines or rules. Prior to my service as your supervisor, I
was a very vocal member of the House minority party in Tallahassee. As such,
I do not believe I can receive a fair hearing before a very partisan
In a text message, she declined to elaborate. "No further comment," she
Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who served with Bucher in the
Florida House, issued a statement in which he said he took "strong
exception" to her claim that she could not get a fair hearing in the Senate.
"I have and will continue to make every effort to ensure fair, unbiased due
process for all involved with this important constitutional responsibility
of the Florida Senate," said Galvano, an attorney.
The Florida Senate is comprised of 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats, which
would have made it extremely difficult for Bucher to reverse her suspension.
Bucher’s retreat is a political victory for DeSantis, a Republican who
narrowly won office in November but has set an aggressive tone of impatience
with what he sees as ineptitude by elected officials.
DeSantis' executive order suspending Bucher from office accused her of
violating state law in the 2018 election, including failing to accurately
report the number of ballots cast and failing to properly conduct recounts
in three statewide races.
The order criticized Bucher for stationing a polling place inside a gated
community; missing election reporting deadlines; failing to submit
improperly completed ballots to the county canvassing board; preventing news
outlets from reviewing recounts; altering ballot tabulation machines; and
failing to provide a complete report that included all election-related
"Supervisor Bucher has failed in her duties as Palm Beach County Supervisor
of Elections," DeSantis' order said. "Her failures tarnished the state of
Florida and cause people to question the ability to properly run elections."
Bucher was the third elected constitutional officer to be suspended from
office by DeSantis in his first two weeks in office
The others are Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and Mary Beth Jackson, the
elected superintendent of schools in Okaloosa County in the Florida
In her statement, Bucher said: "The laws and our Constitution need to be
changed. Florida elected officials should not be afraid to express their
views and stand strong for their constituents without fear of being removed
from office through fabricated allegations which would not stand up in a
court of law. There should be minimum standards for removal of elected
officials by a Governor so that political agendas are not the only reason."
"The political atmosphere in this state and in our country has changed so
much that I no longer wish to be associated with these elected officials,"
Bucher said in her statement. "At this time, I believe my time is better
spent as a concerned and involved citizen of our community."
Bucher no doubt was aware of Florida political history. In 2005, the Senate
voted 32 to 7 to permanently remove former Broward County Supervisor of
Elections Miriam Oliphant from office for "grave and frequent neglect" that
included a budget deficit and failing to open polling places on time, news
reports said. Oliphant had been suspended from office by former Gov. Jeb
Bush in 2003.